THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has refused to recognise the tourism brand ambassador award granted to Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries leader, Walter Magaya, saying the award was granted unprocedurally.

This follows reports that Harare Metropolitan Provincial Affairs minister Mirriam Chikukwa had last month appointed Magaya as Harare’s tourism brand ambassador.

ZTA spokesperson, Sugar Chagonda told NewsDay early this week that his organisation had the sole mandate of appointing tourism ambassadors and had not sanctioned Magaya’s appointment.

“Magaya was never appointed as tourism ambassador and he was never given that status. ZTA is the custodian of tourism and the appointer of brand ambassadors,” he said.Chagonda said the authority was shocked to hear that Magaya had been appointed tourism ambassador without the consent of the regulatory board.

“We were surprised upon hearing that Magaya had been appointed the brand ambassador when we, the tourism authority, had nothing to do with it and we just want to set the record straight,” he said.

“We are not saying he is not worthy of being an ambassador, but the truth of the matter is he was not appointed.”

Contacted for comment over ZTA’s disclaimer, Jabulani Ndebele, a director in Chikukwa’s office, chose to be diplomatic, saying they only gave Magaya a religious tourism award and not an ambassadorial award.

“We do not have the jurisdiction to appoint a tourism ambassador and Magaya was not appointed. We only gave him a certificate of recognition for his efforts in the community. I think somewhere, somehow, someone misinterpreted the facts,” Ndebele said.

Magaya’s spokesperson, Admire Mhango, was unreachable for comment yesterday, although the cleric is on record paying gratitude to government for appointing him as religious tourism ambassador.

“I would like to thank the government of Zimbabwe for naming me the religious tourism ambassador through the Harare Metropolitan province. This shows that the government appreciates the role played by the church in bringing or attracting foreigners who throng PHD church services,” he said then.