The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has indefinitely postponed this year’s edition of the Harare International Carnival citing the government ban on public gatherings in the wake of a cholera outbreak that claimed nearly 50 people across the country. Although the government has since indicated that the epidemic has been effectively contained, the ZTA has for the third time shelved plans to hold the fifth edition of the international arts and culture fete that had been scheduled to run from Monday next week to October 20.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the authority’s chief executive Karikoga Kaseke said they saw it prudent to abide by the ban.

“This is a health situation which we are facing so we are postponing (the carnival) indefinitely because what if it (cholera outbreak) continues until year end?” Kaseke queried.

“We are saying indefinite because we do not know for how long we are going to stay with this ban, but if it is not quickly lifted, it means maybe we will be looking at next month, which is November, and rains are coming …”

The scheduled road show activations in the build-up to the street march have also been cancelled. Harare, however, successfully hosted the Shoko Festival and Jacaranda Festival, among others, over the past two weeks despite the cholera fears.

The development comes in the wake of an economic meltdown stalking the nation resulting in local institutions, including government, cutting costs on luxurious spending, a bracket where the cultural fiesta could fit.

Meanwhile, Kaseke also announced that controversial businessman Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure is now the brand ambassador of the HIC. “He is the face of the carnival not only this year, but for the coming three years. So he is the carnival brand ambassador (and) we have considered a lot of other celebrities, but we think he is right for the post,” said Kaseke.

Ginimbi, however, seemed unaware of his duties when he took to the podium to accept the appointment.

“I’m sure for him (Kaseke) to choose me they could not find the right candidate except me,” he said. “I didn’t know what’s going on when they told me you are now the carnival brand ambassador, I came here to basically get told and I did not even know there is a certificate.”

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