Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi said this week it is still possible for Zimbabwe to host the 2034 Soccer World Cup.
Responding to a question by Glen View North Member of Parliament Fani Munengami about the impact on sports tourism of Zimbabwe’s expulsion from the 2018 World Cup because of the Zimbabwe Football Association’s failure to pay Brazilian coach Jose Valinhos, Mzembi said he would be making a detailed statement on sports tourism on 30 July before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sports.
When Munengami insisted on an answer, Mzembi said the impact of sports tourism was demonstrated by the recent tour of the Indian cricket team which he said was watched by over two billion people.
He said he was accused last year of being a dreamer when he said that Zimbabwe could host the 2034 World Cup.
“I did that in the background of my own understanding that we could do it but from this side of the House, I was accused of being a dreamer. Let me restate that, that dream is achievable within the context of the now Lazarus moment of the Member of Parliament that we can do it in sport tourism. So, I will just plead with the hon. member to be patient until the 30th July, 2015 so that I do not pre-empt some of the surprises that I want to share with him,” Mzembi said.
MR. MUNENGAMI: I will preface my question and direct that question to the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon. Mzembi. Hon. Minister, today it is a sad chapter in Zimbabwe in terms of sport tourism and my heart bleeds actually together with other fellow Zimbabweans who love soccer in our country, for Zimbabwe was booted out of the World Cup yesterday because of its failure to pay a mere $67 000 to a Brazilian Coach Valinhos. What is the effect of that expulsion in terms of sport tourism in our country? Are there any chances whatsoever for Zimbabwe to be readmitted again in future competitions?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think that question is for the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture.
MR. MUNENGAMI: Sorry, on a point of order Madam Speaker. My question is actually on sport tourism. That is what I want the Minister to explain, not in terms of the failure by ZIFA to pay Valinhos but in terms of sports tourism because soccer attracts tourists from other countries.
THE MINISTER OF TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY (ENG. MZEMBI): The hon. member asked a question on sport tourism. The technical side of it is the disqualification of Zimbabwe which I think can be dealt with judiciously by the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture. However, on sport tourism, I want to inform hon. members here that on the 30th July, 2015, I have been asked to appear before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sport, Arts and Culture to give a very elaborate briefing on sport tourism. I wish not to pre-empt my presentation to the Portfolio Committee on the day.
I would invite the hon. member and other Members of Parliament who may have an interest on this subject matter to attend this hearing because I shall be very elaborate in my response, not just to this question, but to sport tourism in general. Notwithstanding that, let me assure him that the future is very bright in the area of sport tourism and I will be unveiling a few secrets in the subject that you have asked on the day. I thank you.
MR. MUNENGAMI: Hon. Minister, indeed you rightly said that you will appear before the committee on a later date which you actually said, but coming back to the issue of soccer and sport tourism, yes you are going to explain later but something has already happened as we speak whereby Zimbabwe has been expelled from the World Cup. What effect is that going to have in as far as sport tourism is concerned?
ENG. MZEMBI: Because the hon. member is asking and persisting on hearing the policy position on sport tourism, may I share Madam Speaker, with the hon. Member of Parliament that just the previous week, we have had a very excellent repositioning of Zimbabwe within the sport tourism global mindset when Zimbabwe repeatedly played cricket against India in matches that were watched by over two billion in audiences. This Minister actually had an opportunity to join in the commentator’s box to reposition brand Zimbabwe. So, there are a lot of positive things happening in that rehab.
With regards to sport, the hon. member will be the first to know that just last year, the Minister was accused of being a dreamer when he positioned Zimbabwe’s ambition to host World Cup 2034. I did that in the background of my own understanding that we could do it but from this side of the House, I was accused of being a dreamer. Let me restate that, that dream is achievable within the context of the now Lazarus moment of the Member of Parliament that we can do it in sport tourism. So, I will just plead with the hon. member to be patient until the 30th July, 2015 so that I do not pre-empt some of the surprises that I want to share with him.