A cloud of uncertainty hovers over the hosting of the Harare International Carnival as the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and anchor sponsor Bigtime Strategic Group are yet to ink a memorandum of understanding (MoU), The Standard Style can reveal.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
The document to seal the partnership for hosting the 10-day fiesta in Harare from September 1 to 10 was supposed to be signed between the two parties a fortnight ago before it was rescheduled to last week, but still nothing has materialised.
With only 11 days to go before the first scheduled Carnival event, speculation is rife that there could spell another last-minute pullout, similar to last year, by the organisers if the benefactors do not own up to the “gentleman’s agreement”.
Planned renovations, including vending stalls, cleaning and removal of menacing pirate taxis along Robert Mugabe Way — which will be the official route on the street march set for September 9 — had not begun by Friday.
However, ZTA head of corporate affairs Sugar Chagonda said the signing is “mere paper work for filing” but all work that needs to be done was on due course.
“It [MoU signing delay] does not affect anything. It is just paper work for filing but everything that needs to be done in preparation is being done,” said Chagonda.
According to an online site, a MoU document “is a formal agreement between two or more parties. Companies and organisations can use MoUs to establish official partnerships. MoUs are not legally-binding but they carry a degree of seriousness and mutual respect, stronger than a gentlemen’s agreement.”
Chagonda said all was in place for the successful hosting of the Carnival, reinforcing the words of his ZTA CEO Karikoga Kaseke, who in past weeks said the ship was in the right direction.
“We are very happy with the progress because everything is on course and all we are waiting for are the dates and the people to come for the carnival,” said Chagonda.
If that is true, then the nation can prepare for an ordinary showcase considering the time left for preparations.
A source close to the anchor sponsor echoed Chagonda’s sentiment, saying the MoU signing was “just a formality” and all ground work was being done.
“We are actually on the ground putting together the carnival. There is no going back and signing of the MoU would just be a formality,” said the source.
While the capacity of Bigtime Strategic Group cannot be questioned considering their successful sponsorship of the Miss Tourism Zimbabwe (MTZ) last year, Miss Zimbabwe this year and the annual Gwanda Gospel Festival, the company’s CEO Justice Maphosa is known for preaching strict work ethics.
Kaseke and Tourism minister Walter Mzembi recently called each other to order, sending apparently ferocious messages back and forth over the carnival.
The spat ensued after the announcement of the fête as Bigtime Harare International Carnival did not amuse Mzembi, who urged the removal of the South Africa-based company’s name arguing that government also plays a part in the sponsorship.
Ironically, government failed to breathe life into the event last year resulting in its failure to take place.
Efforts to get a comment from Bigtime Strategic Group Zimbabwe spokesperson Alson Darikayi were fruitless.