The Sunday Mail
The safety of tourists in Zimbabwe should be viewed from the perspective of cultural factors, national and regional security factors, and the country’s colonisation history. This article presents an analysis of why Zimbabwe is a brand of choice for tourists from a global perspective.
Evidence from researchers has established a symbiotic relationship that exists between a peaceful atmosphere and sustainable development in destination branding. The safety of tourists in a country is guaranteed by the culture of the people, and Zimbabweans are naturally peaceful, hardworking and God-fearing, and value human life.
From a cultural point of view, tourists visiting the country’s resort centres are, therefore, safe.
This article presents the safety indicators that tourists should consider in view of incidences of potential misinformation from social media.
Culture as an anchor for the safety and security of tourists in Zimbabwe
The culture of Zimbabweans is socially constructed from the African Ubuntu or Unhu framework, which naturally symbolises the spirit of togetherness. Historically, Ubuntu refers to a collection of values and practices that make the people of Africa authentic human beings.
The Ubuntu philosophy is based on the understanding that humanity is a quality that people owe to each other. The Ubuntu philosophy was popularised in Zimbabwe when the country was going through the transition from colonisation to majority rule.
The struggle to free the country from the colonial yokes prompted Zimbabweans to embrace the spirit of Ubuntu. The Ubuntu ideology holds that humanity is affirmed by recognising the humanity of others.
Researchers in conflict management and development studies have established that the Ubuntu philosophy is proverbially expressed in the Shona language as Ukama igasva hunozadziswa nekudya. This literally means: relationships among human beings are incomplete unless they share food and eat together.
This implies the culture of the people of Zimbabwe recognises food in binding social relations. Ubuntu discourages people from deviant behaviour and conflict. It promotes peace in communities.
Researchers such as Mbwirire and Sithole established that cultural practices such as nhimbe (voluntary co-operativeness) promote the spirit of togetherness. Under nhimbe, community members willingly and compassionately respond to a household’s development needs through work, where food and beverages are prepared and feasted on.
This practice of sharing food and eating together as a cultural norm symbolises trust, peace, restful minds and dialogue, and resonates with the African Ubuntu social framework.
The traditional practice of nhimbe is underpinned by the tenets of mutual trust, respect for others, conflict prevention, peace and solidarity with others, and ensuring the safety of tourists in the country.
The cultural practices of the people of Zimbabwe are such that they preach peace, tranquillity and respect for humanity.
In addition, traditional leaders such as chiefs are highly valued and respected as the custodians or gatekeepers of community culture and normative practices to ensure the effective enforcement of community values.
Researchers in development studies have established that traditional values in Zimbabwe consider the family as a vital community structure, and that society at large forces community members to live in kinship, adhering to the norms and values of their facility and society.
In this regard, tourists visiting Zimbabwe should observe that the cultural values of Zimbabweans do not have a random character, but are anchored in the spirit of the Ubuntu ideology, which is characterised by co-existence; values positive solidarity; and upholds human dignity and respect for visitors.
This implies that, from a cultural point of view, tourists are very safe in Zimbabwe.
There is guaranteed safety and security of tourists at the regional level as Zimbabwe enjoys stable relations with its neighbours, namely, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.
By regional standards, the country is also not a target of international terrorist groups and has comparatively very low violent crimes.
The country does not have active domestic or international terrorist groups and is a member of the South African Development Community (SADC) Defence Agreement that guarantees regional security.
In addition, the country does not have any border or land disputes because of the well-defined borders in the SADC.
Furthermore, Zimbabwe is a member of various establishments that guarantee the security of nations, namely, the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Member states are committed to regional integration and non-aggression against each other.
This guarantees peace and security among states in the region. In view of this, Zimbabwe is a safe zone for tourists. The SADC protocol of Defence and Security establishes the objectives of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.
This is meant to promote peace and security across Southern Africa.
This brings in a narrative to protect visitors from harassment by potential lawbreakers in the country.
An attack against one SADC member state is, in theory, an attack on the entire region, thus placing Zimbabwe in a larger forum for resolving any regional or international disputes which the country might become part of.
This means tourists in Zimbabwe are protected and safe.
The guaranteed safety of tourists at resort centres in Zimbabwe
The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) establishes that two measures that have proven successful in guaranteeing tourists’ security are (1) pre-emptive attempts to discourage incidences of tourist victimisation involving patrols to hotspots, and the creation of teams stationed at hotspots permanently or semi-permanently.
In view of this observation, Zimbabwe is on record for guaranteeing tourists’ safety.
There is increased presence of armed police officers and use of plain-clothes officers in tourist areas.
In addition, Zimbabwe has developed enhanced observation points at strategic locations and police reporting centres to guarantee the safety of tourists and the people at large.
This means tourism resort centres in Zimbabwe are safe zones for both domestic and foreign tourists.
The country’s police force is doing a commendable job to protect the tourism brand by meeting standards set by the WTO, which guarantee the safety of tourists in the country.
In conclusion, this article informs the global world that tourists visiting Zimbabwe should consider the country as a safe zone from the cultural perspective, and from regional and international protocols that guarantee the security and safety of tourists.
The Zimbabwe tourism brand is highly protected and both domestic and foreign tourists should feel free to visit the Victoria Falls, Kariba Dam, the Great Zimbabwe, the Hot Springs, and other resort centres dotted in the country.
Enjoy your stay in the country. Stop worrying as the country’s resort centres are safe.
However, the Government should consider the enactment of the Patriotic Act to protect the image of Zimbabwe from social media paranoids, who spread false information about the country.
Charles Mavhunga co-authored textbooks in business enterprising skills and is currently studying for a Ph.D in Management at the Bindura University of Science Education. He can be contacted on: [email protected]