Pearl Thusi has finally explained her decision to participate in a State-sanctioned tour of Zimbabwe alongside other media personalities and South African media outlets in early August.
Thusi, Sonia Mbele and Sello Maake ka Ncube drew the ire of both South African and Zimbabwean social media users after a picture of them posing next to Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa and other government officials was posted online.
During an Instagram Live stream, the actor said she had not planned on saying anything “because, generally, once people have made a decision, you can’t change their minds.”
“I was never in this situation to be like, ‘Ah, let me hurt people’,” she said.
“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.”
The country’s permanent secretary for the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Nick Mangwana, announced the group’s arrival on social media.
He called it the “True Zimbabwe Tour” and said, “They have been brought in by @InfoMinZW working together with the media company MPC.”
According to a leading Zimbabwean news outlet, The News Hawks, the tour group comprised celebrities and journalists from Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Eswatini, Tanzania and South Africa.
“They are here to experience the hospitality of our people and to see for themselves the great work done by the second republic in the last five years,” wrote Nick Mangwana on X (formerly Twitter).
The tour ended on Saturday, 13 August, after guests visited what the Zimbabwean government calls “successful farming projects,” the African Chrome Fields mining operations, and the new wing of the Robert Mugabe International Airport.
Thusi was back in the country by Friday, 12 August, and she attended L’Oréal Paris’ launch event for their new brand ambassador Thuso Mbedu.
Speaking to News24, Maake ka Ncube said: “Anybody’s opinion of me is not my reality. As much as I’m a public figure, I have a right of freedom of association.”
He added that Zimbabwe is a country that is owned by its citizens.
A spokesperson for Sonia Mbele Films, Thato Malindi, told News24 Mbele was in the neighbouring country to represent the company after being invited by Zimbabwe’s “elite business moguls to discuss rebuilding the country’s entertainment industry.”