BACKED BY A UNANIMOUS AFRICAN UNION VOTE IS ZIMBABWE’S TOURISM MINISTER NOW HEIR APPARENT TO UNWTO POSITION
(Posted 18th July 2016)
(Dr. Eng. Walter Mzembi seen here at the Sanganai 2016 World Tourism Expo in Bulawayo)
First came SADC, the Southern African Development Cooperation, followed by RETOSA, the Regional Tourism Organization for Southern Africa and now has Africa’s top body, the African Union, also endorsed the candidature of Dr. Eng. Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe.
This unanimous continental endorsement means, as Africa has never held the position of Secretary General of the UNWTO, that chances are rapidly increasing for Dr. Walter, when the election process begins later this year with formal nominations.
Effectively ruling out any other candidates of an African Union member state will the endorsement of Dr. Walter nevertheless ruffle feathers among Western nations opposed to anything and anyone Zimbabwean but smart coalition building may get Dr. Walter the majority he needs to be elected Secretary General of one of the UN’s leading global bodies.
The Zimbabwean delegation to the just ended summit of the African Union in Kigali, held at the brand new Radisson Blu Hotel and Convention Centre, besides the anticipated endorsement for the Zimbabwean candidate, also brought added news to the fore.
Dr. Eng. Walter Mzembi commented prior to his departure that come January 2017, will RwandAir begin to fly to Harare, via Lusaka and that the Zimbabwean government and aviation authorities warmly welcome this move. He went further in fact when he pointed at the new long haul services of RwandAir from Kigali to Mumbai and Guangzhou and very likely to Europe, when he all but invited the airline to operated such flights all the way out of Harare via Kigali, to provide connectivity to the country and allow for the added influx of tourists and business people.
Linking the two cities of Lusaka and Harare will needless to say require fifth freedom rights but as Zimbabwe already signalled their readiness to accommodate such, and Zambia too offers a friendly regulatory regime (unlike one country in particular in East Africa which keeps slamming the door into the faces of airlines seeking similar deals at the expense of tourist arrivals) can it be taken for granted that the new flight will go ahead as suggested.
Dr. Walter is the longest serving tourism minister in Africa and his prolonged tenure has yielded substantial benefits for the tourism industry in Zimbabwe, perhaps a pointer to other African countries to stop treating the tourism portfolio like a rotating door where ministers often come and go in the space of months as seen in the past in some African countries.
From this correspondent it is all the best to Dr. Walter along the route to UNWTO’s top seat and now waiting to hear an official announcement from RwandAir about the launch of flights to Harare, timing and aircraft included.