Assassinating a tourism minister, a UNWTO General Assembly and a witch hunt: Bizarre


Tourism, the UNWTO, and a new event planned under the of the new UNWTO administration is all part of a broader internal mess Zimbabwe is currently in. It’s all about a current witch hunt taking place in Zimbabwe and initiated by anyone who wanted to blow a whistle to trigger the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission to get active and put people in handcuffs.

One prominent person arrested was Dr. Walter Mzembi, former foreign minister and minister of tourism and hospitality, who is accused of a crime to donate after the World Cup 2010 Public Area Viewing Screens to Churches and a University without Treasury concurrence.

Today Zimbabwe media headlines made this story even more bizarre and now it includes a murder for hire and the target was Dr. Walter Mzembi.

The Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission works on tips. It is alleged these tips are often about settling scores on behalf of politicians having a conflict with other politicians, or abusing its questionable arresting powers before thorough investigations are made. Its megaphone policy has recently come under severe criticism by the new Government itself, which accuses it of running public trials of its suspects using Zimbabwe’s public media and hyperactive social media.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba has criticised the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC)’s way of tackling corruption.

Speaking on ZiFM Stereo during an interview, Charamba criticised ZACC for not following due process and warned the anti-graft body that even criminals deserve justice.

Charamba said:” I don’t think newspapers and radio stations are the best media for delivering processes of justice. Yes, justice must be seen to be done but at times it is done before it is actually done and that creates a certain sense of victimization which does not in any way edify processes which must, in fact, inspire public confidence. So whoever is involved in investigations around errant behavior must always be mindful that the whole world is watching, two those people have rights, three there is due process which must be followed, four there’s nothing called a public trial.”

Global tourism events are important for a country like Zimbabwe. As the new Zimbabwe Minister Priscah Mupfumira told reporters at the recently concluded FITUR trade show in Madrid this month: “Tourism is a key contributor to the economy. So for me, the first thing is about brand Zimbabwe, the brand, making sure that we attract as many tourists as possible and grow the sector’s contribution to Government revenue.” After meeting with UNWTO in Madrid the new Zimbabwe minister expressed gratitude for the opportunity to host another major event.

The UNWTO General Assembly in Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2013 was one of the most successful events in UNWTO history but did not start without problems.

If it wasn’t for Zimbabwe’s former minister of tourism and hospitality Dr. Walter Mzembi, the event may not have gotten the standing it did.

Today the news-coverage making headlines in the Zimbabwe news media about a failed assassination attempt against the popular former Minister Mzembi puts this attempt by the current administration to secure a new UNWTO conference in another view.

Last week a self-confessed hitman had testified to Zimbabwe police alleging a senior government official issued him an assassination order to take out former Foreign Affairs minister Dr. Walter Mzembi.

Curiously enough, Dr. Sylvester Maunganidze who the assassin accused to have hired him to eliminate Dr. Walter Mzembi is the same man who served as Dr. Mzembi’ s permanent secretary during the time when Mzembi was Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, and Maunganidze was fired by Mzembi’s ministry and reassigned a few months before the UNWTO General Assembly was held successfully in Victoria Falls in 2013.

The alleged hitman Munyaradzi Mupazviripo filed a report at Borrowdale Police Station in Harare on January 24, 2018 at 19:49 hours, providing granular details of how the government official allegedly gave him instructions in May 2015 to carry out the extra-judicial killing.

The 44-year-old assassin claimed Mzembi’s former permanent secretary told him he would receive a $50.000 cash payment for executing Mzembi. The docket was recorded by a constable J Mapfumo, force number 063184. The case is recorded in RRB number 0242860061 and CR 345/01/18.

The assassin by the name of Mupazviripo, who is currently in hiding, said he has now (years later) been targeted for disobeying the order and was living in fear of being murdered. In his raw account in the docket, he said his refusal to carry out the assignment means he was as good as dead.

“In 2017 in November, Dr. Sylvester Maunganidze phoned me and started insulting me, threatening that I was going to jail and I am a G40 cabal,” Mupazviripo said in his police report. “Dr. Sylvester Maunganidze is always calling me on the phone threatening that I will go to jail this year without fail.”

Mzembi declined to comment on the plot, referring questions to his lawyer Job Sikhala, who said Mupazviripo approached his client at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts last week where the former Foreign minister Mzembi is being charged with “criminal abuse of office”. Mzembi denies any wrongdoing.

Sikhala said: “I didn’t wait to hear what he was telling him. Mzembi caught up with me by the car park and briefed me about what he was told by the hired assassin who pulled him aside that he was hired some time ago to kill him by one man named Dr. Sylvester Maunganidze whom I don’t even know.”

“I digressed over the issue and requested to meet with Mupazviripo and hear his story. We met him and he gave us the narration of how, where and when he was hired and the purpose of the mission and many other stories.

In a statement, police spokesperson senior assistant commissioner Charity Charamba said the content of the report “is false”.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Daily News, the assassin said he had conducted many covert operations, notably in the areas of propaganda and psychological warfare.

He said in his last mission, he was assigned as an agent to infiltrate and monitor the State broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

This assassin accused Dr. Sylvester Maunganidze who was the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry before the UNWTO General Assembly in 2013 , that he wanted Dr. Walter Mzembi dead.

On October 6, 2009 eTurboNews reported about former Zimbabwe President Mugabe had appointed Dr. Sylvester Maunganidze as the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

On August 1, 2012 the African review reported: Dr. Sylvester Maunganidze has paid the price for revealing that the country was ill prepared to host next year’s world tourism summit, as he was relieved of his duties and moved to a less fashionable post.

Dr. Sylvester Maunganidze however, denies involvement in the alleged murder-for-hire plot against Mzembi.

Many think Maunganidze is accused of being responsible for Mzembi’s incarceration in a web of conspiracy with the new administration and some of its officials, a typical vengeance and retribution mission. Perhaps, Maunganidze is pulling the strings from behind the scenes as a whistleblower on the old administration which he hated for demoting him. This is a high probability. All the cases against Mzembi have Maunganidze at the center as the then Permanent Secretary.

When Maunganidze was permanent secretary to Dr. Mzembi, Maunganidze was accused of making disparaging remarks about Zambia just before Zambia was to co-host the summit with Zimbabwe, triggering a diplomatic row between the two countries.

Zambia Reports published this article on Augst 3, 2012: A top government official in African dictator Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe leadership is fired for comments on Zambia as both countries prepare to host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) 20th general assembly next year.

At that time Karikoga Kaseke, who was heading the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, told a press conference back in 2012, “There is nothing fictitious in that bid and the Permanent Secretary thinks by lying it can turn against Dr. Mzembi, our minister,”

The new Zimbabwe Government by its own admission has criticised the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission (ZACC) for its public trials of suspects but the damage for high profile international figures like Mzembi has been done with impunity.

Quoting Shakespeare as he had famously said: “He who steals my good name steals all I have”,  Mzembi ‘s good name built on years of dedicated work for his country including a run on behalf of Africa for the world ‘s top tourism job has been “stolen” by his own Government in a reckless retribution mission.


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