A till operator poses with Zimbabwe bond notes. Picture: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has laid off 33 staff members "to right size the organisation in order to establish an efficient, effective and lean operational team".

Over the past three or four years, the tourism body had been unable to fulfill its mandate because its assets could not match its liabilities.

ZTA confirmed the restructure on Sunday morning, saying that "t he rationalisation program is routine and in line with corporate governance as legislated.

"In this regard and within the context of the national Transitional Stabilization Plan the ZTA has been refocusing its efforts. The Board Of Directors concluded that a Skills Audit exercise be conducted with the aim of rationalising operations and performance."

The ZTA said that the results of the audit conducted by an independent consultant resulted in its  Board reviewing the organisation's corporate strategy and ultimately opting for a restructure.

"The Board consulted and engaged extensively with various stakeholders, who include the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, the Retrenchment Board, the ZTA Workers Committee as well as independent legal advisors. This saw the authority being obligated to retrench 33 employees while 2 employees’ contracts were not renewed and 1 employee opted to resign bringing the total number of employees who have left the organisation to 36.

It should further be noted that the total revenue to staff costs ratio has been high, meaning that a significant percentage of the revenue generated was going towards salaries and allowances. This scenario did not provide a safe financial space for the Authority to embark on developmental projects, investments and promotion of the destination."

The ZTA said its liabilities have tarnished the image of the organisation  both internationally and domestically .

As part of the audit, a number of suggestions were made defining the mandate of the ZTA. These recommendations were subsequently adopted by the board.

The revised mandate of the ZTA is: 
  • To promote Zimbabwe as a destination for Tourists, and to promote the Tourist Industry in oversees, Regional and Domestic markets
  • To develop marketing skills and initiatives within the Tourist Industry
  • To promote high standards in the Tourism Industry through the establishment of Standards, Training and Human Resources Development
  • To register and grade designated Tourist facilities
  • To promote the development of Tourist facilities
  • To undertake planning for the Tourist Industry, including the conduct of market research and development of a Tourism data base
  • To promote awareness in Zimbabwe of the benefits of Tourism
  • To provide consultancy and advisory services in relation to Tourism
  • To investigate and make recommendations to the Minister on any matter affecting the Tourist Industry and the administration of this act
  • On its own initiative or at the request of the Minister, to carry out any function that may be conferred or imposed on the Authority by or under this act or any other enactment.