THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) was prejudiced of significant gate taking revenue at its “Big Five” music bash last Friday in a ticket racket, Independent Xtra can reveal.
ify>The music extravaganza, which featured superstar Oliver Mutukudzi, mbira impresario Ambuya Stella Chiweshe, Tongai Moyo and South African outfits Bongo Maffin and Mafikizolo was part of the tourism authority’s Travel Expo seeking to attract dwindling tourism business.
According to ZTA, 1 200 complimentary tickets were disbursed to tourism stakeholders who included exhibitors and buyers but only 60% of the free tickets were accounted for at the gate.
Independent Xtra witnessed a group of people, potentially connected to ZTA insiders, disposing of their complimentary tickets at “rock bottom” prices in full view of security officers who were manning the outside exhibition stands at the Rainbow Towers Hotel. An advance ticket for the music show was $20 000 while those who paid at the gate had to fork out $25 000. VIP tickets were selling at $30 000.
The people would approach unsuspecting revellers, especially those who turned up late at the venue, and offered their “extra tickets” for as little as $5 000 while others settled for $10 000.
ZTA this week maintained that the concert was a non-profit undertaking thus they never accrued financial loss.
Calculations of the missing tickets sold amount to about $12 million, that is 40% of the 1 200 tickets distributed multiplied by the $25 000 gate entry fee.
ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, admitted that the authority had been alerted to the ticket scandal and said a “lot of people” had been arrested in connection with the fraudulent act.
“We were informed of the development and a lot of arrests were made,” said Kaseke. “What we found out was that these tickets were not fraudulent but genuine tickets. We gave away a total of 1 200 tickets mainly to our stakeholders.”
Kaseke said the event had only been organised for key players in the tourism sector but later made open to the public due to the visiting South African musical outfits.
“This thing (tourism music show) was meant for our stakeholders. It was neither a commercial venture nor fundraising occasion. We are not worried about the money. Takasiyana nawaya mapromoters wanounza ana Kanda Bongoman (We’re different from those musical promoters who bring Kanda Bongoman).
Also spoiling the evening were thieves running amok stealing cash and mobile phones from members of the audience.
ZTA has of late started to encroach into the entertainment industry, with one such example being the authority’s takeover of the Miss Zimbabwe pageant and renaming it Miss Zimbabwe Tourism.