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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
stage set for Robert Mugabe
Ray Ndlovu, Mail and Guardian (SA)
August 23, 2013
tourism event is all he needs to redeem himself - and rub Morgan
Tsvangirai’s nose in it.
Mugabe will be holding his head high when Zimbabwe co-hosts with
Zambia the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation
(UNWTO) general assembly at the weekend in Victoria Falls, a few
days after his inauguration for a seventh consecutive term in office.
The UNWTO event,
a key international showpiece, will give Mugabe the opportunity
to bask in the attention – not only to mark Zimbabwe’s
acceptance back into the global community after years of isolation
and sanctions imposed by the West since 2001 but also to revel in
the sidelining of his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai from the event.
Mugabe will deliver the opening remarks at the summit.
When war veterans
loyal to Mugabe embarked on land invasions in 2000, evicting nearly
4 500 white commercial farmers, Western governments warned their
citizens to avoid travelling to Zimbabwe.
upheaval over land culminated in years of isolation and tourism
the latest figures from the tourism and hospitality ministry, more
than 60 countries have confirmed participation in the conference.
Zambia will host 3 000 delegates from August 24 to 29 at the single
largest tourism summit in the world.
spent on preparations
Under the four-year-old
unity government, it was Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC-T) that was charged with running the treasury and that
provided the funding for the summit.
ministry says it has spent $12-million on preparations for the conference
so far, including refurbishing roads, hotels and the airport as
well as building a conference centre.
After a clash
with Mugabe’s Zanu-PF over the
election results of last month’s poll, Tsvangirai said
the MDC-T would boycott all arms of government and disassociate
itself from any involvement with a Zanu-PF-led government –
which will see Mugabe taking all the credit for hosting the summit.
said last weekend’s Southern African Development Community
summit in Malawi had provided Mugabe with a platform to legitimise
his rule, which the UNWTO meeting would cement.
a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, said: “The
MDC boycott will not be of any consequence at this stage. What Mugabe
needs is regional and continental endorsement, which he has. Now
he only needs international tolerance above that … So, in
essence, all the hard work done in getting the UNWTO has ensured
a timely platform for him to attempt to get that international tolerance.”
a political analyst at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, said Mugabe
was a shrewd politician who would use the tourism summit for his
own political ends.
look at the way he has turned previous UN platforms into his own,
then you can predict that he will try and use the UNWTO to justify
his election victory and even try to persuade the world to embrace
Zimbabwe again,” Mlotshwa said.
from the West
The West has
been scathing about the outcome of the July 31 election, in which
Mugabe won 61% of the 3.4-million ballots cast on voting day to
Tsvangirai’s 33%. Australia has called for a fresh election
to be held, and the United States and Britain both noted “grave
concerns” about the poll.
falling-out with the West saw Zanu-PF looking East to secure alternative
markets. China now has a sizeable stake in diamond mining, construction
and the retail sector in Zimbabwe.
says it is unlikely that the European Union and the US would drop
travel bans on Mugabe and top Zanu-PF officials and sanctions on
a number of companies.
chairperson of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said Mugabe would
also have to drop his anti-Western rhetoric if he was sincere about
sticks to his anti-West message, then he is shooting himself in
the foot. So the tourism summit is a platform for Mugabe to reach
out. But much depends on his message. The event itself will not
necessarily result in an influx of tourists but might mark a turning
point in redeeming the tourism sector and restoring Zimbabwe’s
battered international image,” said Mukundu.
sector on the rebound
After a decade
of political upheaval linked to the violent land seizures by war
veterans loyal to President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s tourism
sector is on the rebound and the government hopes that hosting
the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly this
weekend will be a catalyst for stronger growth.
Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi said the tourism sector will
rake in $5-billion by 2015 if the atmosphere of peace and stability
sector is on a growth path buoyed by the stable political environment
and an aggressive marketing strategy.
will use the summit to position the country as the best tourist
destination,” he said.
The latest figures
from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) suggested that Zimbabwe
has drawn the attention of tourists who had shied away from the
country because of political uncertainty.
In the first
quarter of 2013, Zimbabwe recorded a 17% increase in tourist arrivals,
and all major markets in Africa, Europe and the East registered
arrivals are at 404 282, up from 346 299 in 2012,” the ZTA
said in the report. It attributed the growth to the country’s
improved international image.
The number of
tourists from Europe and the rest of Africa rose 8% and 86% respectively.
South Africa accounts for the largest number of continental visitors
to Zimbabwe, which is attributed to the strong economic trade ties
between the two countries.
A total of 37
294 South Africans visited Zimbabwe during the first quarter of
this year – a 6% increase from the previous comparative period.
Last year, tourism
raked in more than $360-million. Projections this year are that
it will grow by 4%.
The World Travel
and Tourism Council last year said Zimbabwe’s tourism sector
was the “fastest growing in the world and was second only
to China”, with projections of 8.2% to gross domestic product
for the next decade.
Victoria Falls, a UN heritage site, the Hwange National Park, the
Matobo National Park, the Great Zimbabwe National Monument, the
Nyanga Mountains and other sites, tourism officials are confident
that the summit will bring a new era of interest to the country.
will be a legacy event, reaffirming and celebrating the brand
Zimbabwe,” Mzembi said.
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