POP legend Michael Jackson is expected in Harare this morning ahead of his international tour dubbed "This Is It" scheduled for the United Kingdom in July.
According to his official website and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Jackson is expected to touch down at the Harare International Airport at 10am aboard a South African Airways flight from Johannesburg, where he arrived late last night.
ZTA, who brought American star Joe Thomas and reggae icon Luciano, said Jackson’s visit was aimed at sustaining the momentum of the just-ended Inaugural Tourism Stakeholders’ Conference and confirm Zimbabwe as a safe tourist destination particularly in the wake of the lifting of travel warnings by Japan.
Jackson is also expected to meet senior Government officials to donate an unspecified amount of money as part of his contribution to Zimbabwe’s appeal for US$8,3 billion to finance the Short-Term Economic Recovery Programme launched by President Mugabe recently.
"I have always wanted to come to Zimbabwe having last visited the country in 1999.
"It’s also encouraging visiting the country when the political leaders are pulling in the same direction and I hope Zimbabwe will soon get moving again," Jackson was quoted as saying.
ZTA said last night Jackson was scheduled to meet fans at the Rainbow Towers at 2pm to sign autographs.
"After the Press conference, Jackson flies to Victoria Falls, where he is scheduled to meet some stakeholders in the tourism industry before
flying to South Africa for a tour on Friday morning.’’
The King of Pop was last in Zimbabwe in 1999 on a private business trip at the invitation of the then general manager of the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, Colonel Tshinga Dube.
During his short stay at Meikles Hotel presidential suite, Jackson caused a stir even after he had left as fans thronged the venue hoping to catch a glimpse of him with some going to the extent of searching for strands of hair on the comb that he used.
Others wanted to buy his bed linen at thrice the shop price; they wanted the sheets unwashed, of course!
Jackson holds the record of the best selling album of all time with his 1982 release, Thriller that is credited with transforming the music video into an art form and a promotional tool.