Mzembi bus firm leaves rival’s wheels off

THE Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Walter Mzembi, is embroiled in a potential conflict of interest case after a bus firm he owns scooped a contract to be the official carrier of the Brazilian soccer team that visited Zimbabwe in June.

Mzembi, the main organiser of the friendly match for which the government and corporate partners paid US$750 000 for Brazil’s appearance fee, managed to get his company involved in the action, leaving Pathfinder Luxury Coaches which had initially won the job out in the cold.

After getting the job to transport the Samba Boys Pathfinder had already begun marketing themselves as the “wheels behind the Samba Boys”.

Mzembi confirmed that he owned Munandi Travel and Tours in a telephone interview on Wednesday. He became abusive when asked whether he had played a role as chief organiser of the match in securing a contract for his firm.

“Is it a crime to own buses? My buses are used for the public service. You are the same people writing bad things about me which are being published by online news sites. Why are you tarnishing my image?” fumed Mzembi. He did not pick up subsequent calls or return a request for an interview on the matter.

A Pathfinder official, Fungai Makoni, refused to comment saying the matter was “too political”.

It was not possible by yesterday to ascertain how much Munandi was paid.

Acting Zifa CEO Jonathan Mashingaidze said the transport deal was sealed between his boss Henrietta Rushwaya and Mzembi.

Mashingaidze said: “It was Rushwaya who was in charge and no-one knows about the Brazil match. Even the board was not aware of it.”

Zifa board member responsible for finance, Elliot Kasu, said he knew nothing about financial or contractual details of the Brazil match, and referred the Zimbabwe Independent to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, which falls under Mzembi’s ministry.

The ZTA in turn referred questions on the matter back to Zifa.
According to a match staging agreement between Zifa and Kentaro AG, a Swiss company acting as the Brazilian team agents, Zifa was responsible for handling the Samba boys’ ground transportation.

 

Ashley Marimo

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