Ho­tel cans Zim del­e­ga­tion book­ing

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY

THE lux­u­ri­ous Radis­son Blu Ho­tel Sand­ton last week made an eleventh hour can­cel­la­tion of book­ings for a high-rank­ing Zim­bab­wean del­e­ga­tion of min­is­ters led by Vice Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa.

This forced or­gan­is­ers of a two-day in­vest­ment con­fer­ence hosted by the Zim-SA Fo­rum in Johannesburg to scram­ble to find al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion and a venue for the sum­mit at the Cap­i­tal Ho­tel, a few kilo­me­tres away.

Yes­ter­day, Radis­son Blu Sand­ton gen­eral man­ager, Volkan Vu­ral, told the African News Agency (ANA) that the ho­tel had “de­clined” to host the large Zim­bab­wean con­tin­gent led by Mnan­gagwa be­cause of the pos­si­bil­ity of protests.

“The Radis­son Blu Sand­ton de­clined host­ing the Zim­bab­wean del­e­ga­tion due to se­cu­rity and protest con­cerns at the ho­tel. We have an obli­ga­tion to en­sure the safety of our in-house guests,” Vu­ral said in re­sponse to en­quiries.

“We met with the Zim­bab­wean del­e­ga­tion or­gan­is­ers to re­lay this in­for­ma­tion to them. While it was com­mu­ni­cated at short no­tice, there was no ill in­ten­tion to­wards the Zim­bab­wean del­e­ga­tion. The safety of our in-house guests will al­ways re­main our first pri­or­ity.” The Zim-SA Fo­rum was left reel­ing, with some ac­cus­ing the ho­tel of pulling a po­lit­i­cal and racial stunt.

“We had booked the ho­tel. There was a team which had ar­rived ahead of the VP (Mnan­gagwa) and were al­ready booked at the Radis­son. They had come to as­sist with the se­cu­rity is­sues. On Thurs­day, two Zim­bab­wean min­is­ters had al­ready landed, ready to come to the Radis­son. Some of our del­e­gates from the UK had al­ready checked into the ho­tel. They (Radis­son Blu) sent this wo­man to tell us that the event has been can­celled. That was at the eleventh hour. Claire (Mitchell, clus­ter di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing) said the rea­son was that I had not told them that Mu­gabe was com­ing,” said Anele Ndlovu, pres­i­dent of the Zim-SA Fo­rum.

“We had told them upfront that it was the VP com­ing, not Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe.”

Ndlovu said the South African gov­ern­ment had been in­formed and se­cu­rity teams, in­clud­ing in­tel­li­gence agen­cies, had been in­spect­ing the ho­tel, prior to Mnan­gagwa’s visit.

He vowed that all future busi­ness ties with the Radis­son Blu Sand­ton would be cut. The Zim­bab­wean pressure group at the cen­tre of the storm, #Ta­ja­muka, in­sists it did not pose a se­cu­rity risk, de­spite its strong dis­ap­proval of the con­fer­ence and not see­ing eye-to-eye with the Zim­bab­wean gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

“Our peo­ple are just harm­less. They just wanted to picket, just to ex­press their views. There was no plan or aim of any vi­o­lence,” said the leader of #Ta­ja­muka, Shel­ton Chiyangwa.

A dis­pleased Zim­bab­wean am­bas­sador in South Africa, Isaac Moyo, said Harare viewed the can­cel­la­tion as an act of sab­o­tage.

“We take it that the eleventh hour was tan­ta­mount to try­ing to sab­o­tage an event which the Zim­bab­wean gov­ern­ment had put so much ef­fort to bring about,” said Moyo.

There was no plan or aim of any vi­o­lence

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