Mzembi, Chombo must break roadblocks impasse now

THE number of police roadblocks on the country’s roads continues to be a spiky issue and there is need for finality and clarity on the matter.

Comment: NewsDay Editor

A few weeks back, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi declared the “boy is back in town”, referring to himself and that he would confront his Home Affairs counterpart, Ignatius Chombo, on the issue.

This was on the back of revelations by outgoing tourists that they were unlikely to recommend Zimbabwe to other potential visitors because of numerous roadblocks.

Barely had Mzembi’s voice died down when Zimbabwe Tourism Authority boss, Karikoga Kaseke came out in support of the roadblocks, saying this portrayed a secure country with police, where tourists can drive safely.
How wrong he is.

A high number of police officers on the roads, to the contrary, portrays a country with security issues, needing law enforcement agents at all corners to preserve safety.

For example, in London, after the terrorist attacks at the weekend, mayor Sadiq Khan told residents of that city that in the coming days, there would be more police officers on the streets, but Londoners should not be alarmed.

This is because he realises that more police officers on the streets of the city heighten security anxieties, which could affect London’s lure as one of the foremost tourist centres in the world.

The same goes for Zimbabwe. If we are serious about increasing tourism and being an attractive destination, then we should pull police officers from the streets.

This might be an unpopular decision and could affect revenue received in fines, but in the long run, the country stands to benefit more from tourism and investors.

The number of police roadblocks invariably increases anxiety and nervousness in people who are not familiar with the environment and this ultimately leads to reduced tourist numbers.

Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently said he had instructed Mzembi and Chombo to engage on the issue of police roadblocks and hopefully this will not be an inconclusive talk shop.

There is need for the government to address this issue urgently if it entertains any chances of getting a considerable share of the global tourism cake.

Chombo has, in the past, spoken about reducing the number of roadblocks on the country’s roads and there is need for him to act on his words.

Mzembi, on his part, is on the right track and should continue pushing and knocking sense into the heads of his colleagues, who do not realise the irreparable harm they are causing to the economy.