Kundai Marunya Arts Correspondent
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) boss Karikoga Kaseke said Zodwa Wabantu is welcome to join the 5th Harare International Carnival to be held from October 14 to 20. This follows the controversial exclusion of the South African socialite and dancer from attending last year’s festivities, a decision which was said to have been made on moral grounds.
Speaking at a press conference in Harare yesterday, Kaseke said there was nothing wrong with Zodwa’s participation.
“There is nothing immoral about what Zodwa does. She was going to join the street procession decently dressed last year; it was wrong for the Ministry of Tourism to ban her from participating,” he said.
Zodwa was supposed to be part of the carnival’s street procession as well as perform at a local club.
“It was Biggie Chinoperekwei who was going to bring Zodwa for a performance at Private Lounge and he asked if she could join the procession which we had agreed to,” said Kaseke.
He alluded to the fact that the gentlemen’s club hosts worse dancers that Zodwa. The club is synonymous with strip tease. Explaining Zodwa’s ban last year, Kaseke said there were infights between him and the former minister Walter Mzembi. Kaseke alleged that South African based businessman Justice Maphosa of Big Time Strategic Group had pulled out sponsorship from Miss Zimbabwe, an event which was then run by Mzembi’s wife after the latter had tried to steal Maphosa’s company.
Kaseke said Mzembi then directed him against retaining Maphosa as last year’s carnival sponsor.
“I refused because I did not want personal issues superseding national interests,” said Kaseke.
Meanwhile, Kaseke said 19 countries have already confirmed their participation including Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Egypt, United States, China and Ghana.
“We will have Africa’s most powerful monarchy, the Ashanti king from Ghana coming in with his people. We are hoping for more countries to confirm,” he said.
Locally, 35 traditional groups, 28 contemporary arts groups, 36 schools, 12 tertiary institutions, 30 companies have confirmed attendance with 40 people having expressed interest to hold block parties. The Harare International Carnival is an annual event introduced in 2013 to market Zimbabwe as a tourism destination. Last year it was voted the best and biggest carnival in Africa.
Initially the carnival was supposed to be held in July but was postponed to next month. This year’s main street party will be held on October 20.