Chinese group angers travellers

Scores of Zimbabwean travellers on Sunday angrily protested at the preferential treatment given to a group of Chinese at Harare International Airport.

The travellers arrived on the South African Airways flight that landed at 1210 from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport. After collecting their baggage, they queued as returning residents to be cleared by immigration officials.

The passengers told The Zimbabwean that they endured a long wait as the points were unmanned and, after some time, they were advised to queue at the points reserved for SADC officials and delegates.

However, before they could be attended to, a man wearing Zanu (PF) regalia burst in from the arrivals terminal and shepherded some 20 Chinese nationals to the SADC point.

“To our surprise, we all told to step back as the officer manning the point, apparently at the behest of the man in the Zanu (PF) regalia, asked the Chinese group to come forward and be served first.

“We were angered by the officer’s arrogance, so we protested loudly, but that did not help. To make matters worse, the officer at the SADC point told us that we could go back to the returning residents’ clearing points, which were not manned,” said one of the travellers. She said the airport authorities were “taking the Look East policy too far by trying to please ordinary Chinese visitors at our expense”.

Zimbabwe adopted the Look East policy at the turn of the 21st century as a response to increasing isolation from the west over bad governance, a poor human and property rights record and alleged electoral fraud.

Another irate passenger said: “All the messages at the airport are in English and Chinese. There is no local language. Does this mean that Zimbabwe is slowly turning into a little English China or some kind of Hong Kong? If those Chinese passengers were VIPs, then they should have been received through other means.”

The tourism ministry is looking to boost tourist arrivals in the country by marketing the country to Chinese holiday makers who reportedly could bring in millions of dollars per year.

Over the years, there have been numerous complaints of unfair labour practices at Chinese-run companies, illegal repatriation of locally generated revenue back to China and failure to deliver on promises made to give aid and investment.

Post published in: Business

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