Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Hon. Dr. Walter Mzembi delivered the following speech today on the occasion of the farewell party of former Secretary of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Ms Florence Nhekairo:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All protocols observed

On occasions such as this, when the Tourism Family is together as the case prompted by Madam Nhekairo’s farewell party, I usually use them as policy platforms to correct and realign issues and or issue directives in line with my mandate especially with regards to current issues. The hallmarks of the person we are celebrating being the case in point as I expect them to pass by osmosis to those who are staying behind to serve, and I will not miss the opportunity in this instance, and please get me right as characterized by the Deputy Minister in introducing me, I am very forthright and not easily intimidated!

In accepting to serve as Minister of Government, I swore an oath of loyalty to His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the country itself. When I cease to be loyal, the President must fire me immediately and should not keep me for any moment longer than necessary. My loyalty to him and Zimbabwe, is the sum total of how I command loyalties below me on his behalf and the state in discharging my mandate, and that of the staff under my purview.

In all instances my personal interests and yours, should be subordinated to those of the state, never ahead. If I sense from anyone of you a departure from the above out there and I have empirical evidence at hand, I will ask you to go.

The lady who gathers us today, Ms Florence Nhekairo, is the epitome of loyal service, and this is why I am here to celebrate her and her legendary legacy.

For 37 years she served in the Government of Zimbabwe. Before that, for 7 years, she served in the Government of Zambia – our Siamese twin sister country. This gives us a total of 43 years of service. She left the Cabinet Office of the Government of Zambia back home to her country to join the Civil Service in the then Ministry of Energy and Water Resources in 1981.

I will not go into details of her portfolios she served under, serve to say before going to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and being re-deployed in 2013, she served in the Office of the President and Cabinet – and I say this for all of us to understand that working in that office, and for that matter, in the same of the Government of Zambia comes with great trust and well assessed loyalty to the country and its authorities. Of course Kaseke was right in describing mai Nhekairo as motherly and all the attributes he mentioned, but what he did not mention is that she was very tolerant notwithstanding the idiosyncrasies she had to put up with including trying to bring us together, that does not mean anyway that the new secretary can copycat Nhekairo as she is entitled to her own management style, and I will embrace it as long as it achieves results.

I must emphasize two elements that I seek from you as a team starting with submission to authority which in itself is a derivation of discipline and ultimately loyalty which were the hallmarks of Ms Nhekairo’s service. Let me emphasize that I am an apostle of discipline and hard work. Our callings are not for reward but invokes our passion in order to fulfill our mandates. If you are looking for money, the civil service is not the place to be – we do not worship money – we serve.

Her great contribution to the country, particularly in the sector which I lead has given work and purpose to generations. Under her tutelage in the Ministry, she saw the consummation and completion of two major projects – the Visitor Exit Survey and the National Tourism Masterplan that I shared with stakeholders yesterday as part of the final consultations before presentation of the same to Cabinet. She was motherly, a peace – builder who sought relentlessly the happiness of staff and results oriented. Her hard work and the spirit of togetherness, buttressed oasis of loyalty, is what great patriots do, and the brevity to confront challenges in the face of adversity that is what made her exceptional. She showed the capacity to remain focused, make positive change, and endeavored to make the tourism sector flourish, and the lives of those who benefit from it better.

It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain abilities – and what is important is the application of abilities to contribute meaningfully to the development of society. Ms Nhekairo commitment and loyalty to service is self-evident, and I celebrate her for cultivating even within the Ministry she just left – a collective spirit for staff to implement the Ministry’s vision and execute its mandate with great alacrity, creativity and innovation. She never limited anyone with creative minds to pursue their dreams for as long this was in the collective interest of the society we are all called to serve in our sector. She is leaving us with a challenge. The challenge to maintain Team Tourism that is results oriented – and on the imperatives to strive together as well, to achieve inclusive greater good for all.

You will be remembered for the great things that you have done not only for the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and its parastatal, the ZTA, but for every staff in the workplace. If it had been possible for us to stop your retirement, or decrease your age and increase the number of years left to continue with what you know how to do best— working with loyalty, commitment, resilience, creating a peaceful workplace for all -superiors and subordinates, and to work together in harmony as a collective —we would have done that for you. However, everything has its own place and time, and it is your turn today. Our own retirement period is also waiting around the corner when someone else will have to bid us goodbye just like we are witnessing with you today.

Our very good retiring Secretary put in great efforts in instilling values, such as determination, tolerance, equity, kindness, honesty, patience, and professionalism that are needed to get on with the job in the Ministry staff even in her absence. You have worked assiduously; now it is time for me on behalf of staff to say, go out there, live happily with the people and continue to do good as you have always done within Government. You are retiring, but I am fully aware that you are going yet to another national call – farming. This is what inspires me even more. Your choice to retire to farming answers to a national call and cause – to make the land productive to make the land reform program initiated by the President a resounding success is exemplary. This is what we should all look forward to, and ensure that the land given to us does not lie fallow – but w ork on it, produce food, export and treat farming as an enterprise to which we just note retire to, but should opt to as an alternative to idling in offices.

I never say this, but allow me to say, Florence, you are our cosmic shimmering nyamatsatse star. You have left a legacy of servant leadership in the sector, loyalty to Government and its people, and your mark on the Zimbabwehuman civilization is indelible. You are starting a new journey of joining the citizenry outside government. I pray that God continues to grant you sound health, mercy and blessings. And may you find life after retirement a happy moment with endless sweet memories. You are leaving the Tourism sector on a positive growth trajectory. We would not have gone this far without your contribution, inspiration, guidance to the sector and support. We only part to meet again – please close not your doors should we come to summon your rich wisdom for the sector.

God bless you,

I thank you