Tuku’s long wait for diplomatic passport

TukuMUSIC superstar Oliver Mtukudzi is still to secure a diplomatic passport six years after the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) accorded him diplomatic status, in recognition of his music brand that has put Zimbabwe on the world map.
Tuku, who is regarded as the country’s cultural ambassador, was in 2011 appointed the country’s tourism ambassador by ZTA, together with his wife, and were promised diplomatic passports for ease of travel.

A diplomatic passport is a special travelling document issued to the country’s officials and their families for use on foreign assignments. It can also be issued to individuals conducting activities of high national value internationally.

The decision to grant the Tozeza Baba hitmaker diplomatic status was applauded by many as it was meant to allow the musician to use diplomatic channels at airports, helping him avoid delays and frustrating customs checks as well as paying travel or airport departure taxes.

ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke, however, told NewsDay that they did not sell Tuku a dummy, but the process was still in motion.

“There is no doubt that Tuku is one of the local artistes who deserves that tourism ambassador role. When appointed for such an ambassadorial role, one must have a diplomatic passport, which is, however, outside our mandate, but we have recommended Tuku for that and we are hopeful that the relevant authorities will consider that,” he said.

During a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Arts, Sports and Culture tour at Tuku’s Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton, Tuku, however, said a diplomatic passport would not make any difference for him.

“They cannot appoint me an ambassador now because I represent every Zimbabwean, including the President, at other platforms where they don’t go,” he said.

Speaking at a tribute dinner hosted for Tuku at a local hotel in 2013, NACZ director Elvas Mari appealed to government to award the musician a diplomatic passport, in recognition of how he has represented the country far and wide.

“This man [Mtukudzi] has done a lot for our country. He has represented us extremely well on the international scene. He deserves serious recognition from the government. Our wish as an arts council is that he might be rewarded with a diplomatic passport,” he said.

With 64 albums to his name, Tuku has toured the world and has been endorsed by many companies and organisations as a brand ambassador.

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