The Sunday Mail
IT appears the annual Harare International Carnival can only take place after postponements, for one reason or another.
In all editions, the jamboree has had to shift dates, with the worst case resulting in complete cancellation in the year 2016.
The deferments, according to organisers Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), have mainly been due to delays in disbursement of funds by Treasury.
But nasty feuds between former Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Walter Mzembi and ZTA chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke also contributed to the unfortunate developments in some instances.
This time around, the carnival, which had been set for July 17 to July 21, was again pushed back “as a last minute decision”.
The annual jamboree will now be held in October, paving way for the Peace Festival that has been scheduled for July 27 in Harare.
The development came barely a month after critics had pointed out that the fiesta had been set to run almost a week before the July 30 harmonised elections and at the height of the winter season.
Dr Kaseke insisted that despite all that, the 2018 carnival dates were not going to be moved as has been the case over the years.
So what exactly could have later motivated the ZTA strongman to consider otherwise?
Dr Kaseke explains: “This is a decision that we reached after wide consultations with churches, particularly with heads of ministries that comprise leaders of denominations like the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Christian Ministries Association and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, etcetera.
“Talks with the heads and various other associations suggested that Zimbabweans were for the idea of celebrating peace in the country more than having the carnival, hence they ended up suggesting we run a Peace Festival in place of the carnival since we are calling for peace.
“We need peace in this country before, during and after elections. We could have done this festival by now so that political parties conduct their campaigns in peace but again, the festival is still very much relevant.
“However, the situation on the ground is not bad so far apart from the incident that happened in Bulawayo, which was extremely unfortunate and barbaric in nature.
“Why would someone want to kill a President who is preaching peace, love and harmony? It is that incident that made us realise what we can do for the nation.
“We thought we could find ways to pray for amity. Yes, churches are praying for peace daily but we need everybody to come on July 27 and celebrate the peace that we are having, the peace that we should have after elections,” explained Dr Kaseke.
He added: “President Emmerson Mnangagwa always preaches peace each time he addresses the public and deserves all the credit for making it possible for the nation to have peaceful elections.”
The event was masterminded by churches but will also include secular performers. Also, it will be open to every citizen regardless of religious beliefs, race and ethnicity.
The Peace Festival, to be held under the theme “Shout to the Lord”, is meant to promote peace and political tolerance ahead of the forthcoming elections set for July 30.
“The churches suggested we call it the ‘Peace Festival’ as opposed to gospel festival, which would have limited the event to church-goers. So in short, every peace loving citizen should attend this festival. Peace should bind us together.
“In that regard, the event is not limited to gospel artistes, any artistes available on the day, be it Jah Prayzah, Winky D or any other artiste is free to come and perform but the event is being led by churches and ZTA comes in only with the logistical support. We are just helping churches organise the event but it remains theirs,” revealed the ZTA boss.