The Sunday Mail
THE fifth edition of the Harare International Carnival (HIC) will be hosted as planned and dates are not going to be postponed despite being a few days away from the country’s July 30 national harmonised elections, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has said.
ZTA recently announced the annual carnival will be held from July 17 to July 2.
However, the announcement raised eyebrows.
Critics are questioning the timing of the event considering it will run almost a week before the July 30 harmonised elections and at the peak of the winter season.
The last two editions of the carnival were held in a warm atmosphere, October (2015) and September (2017), periods favourable for outdoor events that usually characterise the jamboree.
The critics believe the event will fail to attract usual multitudes due to divided attention caused by elections that will be in full swing.
Conversely, non-political philosophers are arguing that very few people will have the courage to brave the chilly weather in order to attend the festival.
But ZTA chief executive, Dr Karikoga Kaseke has dismissed all these concerns as baseless.
The firebrand tourism personality said there is nothing wrong with the timing of the carnival. He said the tourism authority does not have any plans to shift the dates.
“We are trying to show that Zimbabwe is a very peaceful country. It can have the pleasure and luxury of having a carnival a week before elections, which some quarters are saying is impossible. We have a lot of confidence in the messages that are coming from our political leadership that the elections this year will be peaceful, free and fair and above all credible,” said Dr Kaseke.
“There is nothing that can stop us from having this carnival a week before elections. We want to show the world that Zimbabwe has matured and it can be done.”
Dr Kaseke noted that the fact that different political parties are currently holding rallies with no incidences of violence recorded is testimony that things have changed for the better under the new political dispensation.
“Why should we try to prop violence when it is non-existent? The HIC should be viewed by everyone as a platform to promote peace and unity among Zimbabweans. The event is all about celebrating diversity,” said Dr Kaseke.
“Let me also point out that we always do our homework before organising such events.
For instance, my team checked the weather for carnival days, particularly the street march day and findings are that temperatures will be favourable on the day, ranging between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius from 10 am. World over, this is perfect weather for a carnival.”
According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police, any event must be cleared with the police.
“Whoever is organising an event/function where the public is concerned should make sure that adequate security for the event is sourced from the police and that the event is cleared with relevant authorities, which is all that the carnival organisers need to do,” said national deputy police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi.
Zimbabwe borrowed the carnival concept from countries like Brazil, Seychelles, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, where they are big business, earning the countries millions of dollars annually.
The carnival concept has been instrumental in promoting peace, unity and tolerance in most countries. Zimbabwe continues to draw lessons from the veterans.
Some of the countries that have taken part in the annual HIC include Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Malawi, Kenya, Egypt, Namibia, Ethiopia and South Africa.
The list keeps growing with each passing edition as more countries continue showing interest in the fete.