Re: Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe *LINK*
Posted By: Masimba Musodza In Response To: Re: Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe (Masimba Musodza)
Date: Monday, 27 September 2004, at 5:34 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe (Masimba Musodza)
CIO invade holiday resorts
By Savious Kwinika
MASVINGO - Business at hotels and lodges, now thriving on workshops, is being disrupted by state security agents who are prowling around these areas in a bid to spy on the activities of non governmental organisations (NGOs) and any other organisations perceived to be anti government.
Investigations by The Standard in Masvingo revealed that many resort centres dotted around the vast Lake Mutirikwi were being subjected to persistent intimidation by the continuous presence of Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives and the Zanu PF youth militia.
These groups, The Standard heard, were after members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and several other NGOs involved in governance issues, such as the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA).
Some organisations preferred holding workshops close to the Great Zimbabwe monument and the lake where the atmosphere is peaceful.
Officials at several hotels and lodges, which surround the country's largest inland lake, Mutirikwi, last week told The Standard they were seriously concerned about the presence of CIO and Green Bombers - the ruling party militia - saying their presence alone terrified clients.
"Only last week on Thursday, three male CIO operatives, whom I can identify, came to our lodge on three occasions. They were in a Mazda vehicle and said they were looking for members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) whom they claimed were holding a seminar.
"Efforts to block the three CIO operatives from entering the conference room failed. They would not listen and this resulted in our guests hurriedly fleeing the premises shortly after the departure of the operatives. This is not healthy for the tourism business," said an official who preferred not to be named.
Another tourism marketing official said: "Right now I fail to understand why we are campaigning abroad for tourists when the youth militia and CIO are deployed to intimidate, harass and threaten the very same people who are bringing business."
Another lodge, a favourite among European, American and South African tourists, Lake Shore, was visited twice last week by CIO operatives and Zanu PF youth militia. They told staff at the lodge that they were looking for opposition MDC and ZCTU members attending a workshop.
"It's true that MDC had 10 of its people attending a two-day seminar, but so what?" said the official.
Another manager said: "Because of these intrusions, foreign tourists who used to be our major clients are no longer coming here."
A manager with one of the hotels in Masvingo said: "When we do business we don't consider whether one is Zanu PF, or MDC"
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) regional manager for Chiredzi, Keron Shumba, admitted that the tourism sector was facing problems but quickly pointed out that his organisation was involved in aggressive marketing strategies to revive the tourism business.
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