from SIBANENGI DUBE in Johannesburg, South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – CONTROVERSY has ensued ahead of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit to South Africa, where an organisation is accused of “hijacking” the historic tour.
The Zim- SA Forum has been making the most of the frenzy around Mnangwagwa’s rise to the presidency by attempting to charge Zimbabweans fees ranging between R1 200 ($95) and R50 000 to meet their newly-installed leader.
It has aggressively circulated an online marketing poster selling to Zimbabweans based in South Africa an opportunity to have dinner with “their President” on Thursday, the same day Mnangagwa is to meet South African counterpart Jacob Zuma.
“Zim-SA Forum has the pleasure of inviting you and your business associates to a Gala Dinner in honour of the President of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Mr. E.D Mnangagwa in his first official visit to South Africa as a sitting president,” reads part of the marketing poster signed by the forum President, Anele Ndlovu.
A First National Bank (FNB) cheque account for Zimbabweans to deposit money before they could attend the event is provided.
This has not gone well with the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria, which apparently organising a luncheon on Thursday with Mnangangwa scheduled to address Zimbabweans living in South Africa.
Consular General, Batiraishe Henry Mukonoweshuro, denounced the plans by the forum as “unfortunate and causing confusion.”
“We wish to advise that this event (luncheon) will be hosted by the Ambassador (Isaac Moyo) and the Embassy Staff. The Ambassador has since
sent an invitation to all invited. At no time was Zim-SA mandated to invite participants. Events where the esteemed leader meets his Zimbabwean people from all walks of life cannot and should not be used to fund raise,” said Mukonoweshuro in a letter to Ndlovu.
Mukonoweshuro also ordered Ndlovu to immediately withdraw all invitations.
He however praised Zim-SA Forum for exuding positive energy but warned the organisation against “hijacking” state events.
“We value your (Zim-SA Forum’s) cooperation and enthusiasm, but wish that we move together cognisant of Government and official protocols and
working ethos,” said Mukonoweshuro.
A Zimbabwean businessman, Lucky Muserodzero, condemned the attempt to commodify Mnangagwa as “morally wrong and too opportunistic.”
“Criminal elements are already thinking of making money by selling the President to the people,” charged Muserodzero.
A young Zimbabwean based in Bramley, who declined to be identified, humorously lamented that Zimbabweans might end up without a President if
future similar attempts to mortgage him succeeded.
Ndlovu did not respond to questions sent to him. ZIM-SA Forum earlier this year hosted Mnangagwa while he was still deputy to then- President Robert Mugabe.
On its website, Zim-SA Forum says it provides “a unique platform for Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to reposition themselves and contribute towards national economic recovery trajectory and poverty eradication.”
– CAJ News