South African actor Pearl Thusi has refused to apologise for participating in the recent public relations tour of Zimbabwe which drew fire from South African and Zimbabwean commentators opposed to the administration in Harare.
The tour last week was reportedly sponsored by controversial South African businessman Zunaid Moti who has interests in chrome and lithium in Zimbabwe.
Along with a group of Southern African journalists, Thusi and fellow South African celebrities, Sello Maake kaNcube and Sonia Mbele, visited a number of places including Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s farm and State House where they posed for a photo.
But the all expenses jaunt drew criticism mostly from opponents of President Mnangagwa’s government, coming as it did on the eve of elections on August 23.
The visiting group described the visit as eye opening and kaNcube, who claimed that his wife had Zimbabwean heritage and that he was happy to visit black owned farm for the first time, stridently defended his participation in the tour when he came under attack on social media.
And during an Instagram Live session, Thusi spoke for the first time, defended the decision to tour Zimbabwe.
When I was asked to go to Zimbabwe, there was one thing I was told; tourism.”
According to Thusi, the opportunity to tour Zimbabwe was presented to her and her management team as an opportunity to showcase Zimbabwe to the world.
“To show a different narrative of Zimbabwe, that there’s beauty, invite people to come and spend money in Zimbabwe… show that Zimbabwe is powerful and incredible in its own special ways.”
She further explained that she was only told about the gala dinner and state house visit after she arrived in Zimbabwe. Thusi told her followers she obliged because that is how she was raised, and being disrespectful is not who she is.
“I am not going to apologise for anything. What I will say is I did not know I was going to be at the State House, and I didn’t know I was going to be in a situation that was going to look politically charged.”
– Additional reporting by News24