PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has appointed Industry and Commence Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu as Acting Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry while substantive minister Prisca Mupfumira battles her corruption allegations in court.
Minister Mupfumira is facing a slew of criminal abuse of public office charges involving $95 million.
Last Saturday, the State invoked Section 32 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which allows it to seek the further detention of a suspect up to 21 days to conduct further investigations.
This has seen President Mnangagwa moving in to appoint Minister Ndlovu as Acting Minister to allow the ministry to operate unhindered.
In a statement yesterday, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda said: “The Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet has announced that His Excellency the President Cde ED Mnangagwa has appointed Minister N. Ndlovu as the Acting Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry pending finalisation of court processes involving the substantive minister Honourable Mupfumira.”
Minister Mupfumira was arrested last Thursday by the reconfigured Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) on allegations of corruption involving $95 million of National Social Security Authority (NSSA) funds.
Chief prosecutor Mr Michael Reza presented a certificate from the Prosecutor-General’s Office to detain Mupfumira for three weeks on the basis that she could use her position as minister to interfere with investigations.
Analysts say the move by President Mnangagwa to appoint a caretaker minister to manage Minister Mupfumira’s portfolio will also allow the ministry, which is seen as a low-hanging fruit, to help in the country’s economic turnaround.
The country’s short-term economic blueprint, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), which runs from October 2018 to December next year, targets support for “aggressive marketing and rebranding of Zimbabwe”, to facilitate tourist arrivals taking advantage the country’s diverse tourist attractions.
“This will hinge on provision of innovative incentive packages, and the relaxation of all restrictive visa requirements, among others measures,” reads the TSP.
The TSP also seeks to review tourism operators’ licensing requirements with a view to improve entry into the industry and competitiveness of tourism products.
Minister Mupfumira was arrested on return from the United Kingdom where she had travelled, together with senior Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) officials, to market the country as a safe tourist destination.