Back to Index, Back to Special Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
crowned UN tourism chief
Jason Moyo, Mail and Guardian (SA)
August 30, 2013
the backing of all the African countries at the United Nations tourism
body meeting this week.
Mugabe is soaking up more endorsement from his regional allies after
Zimbabwe was elected head of the Africa chapter of the United Nation’s
tourism body this week.
Just a week
after he was inaugurated for a new term after elections
his opponents say he rigged, Mugabe, who has been hungry for
international endorsement, revelled in his unlikely new role as
an “ambassador of tourism”.
At a meeting
in Livingstone, Zambia, Zimbabwe was elected to head the Africa
commission of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)
until 2015. Zimbabwe won the backing of all African countries at
the summit Zimbabwe will now also be co-president, with Zambia,
of the UNWTO itself for the next two years.
placement at the helm of a tourism body is ironic, as his rule over
the past decade has decimated a tourism industry that was once the
country’s second-largest earner of foreign currency.
decision to allow Zimbabwe to co-host the event has angered rights
UN Watch expressed “grave disappointment” at the UN’s
decision, saying it was a “disgraceful show of support and
a terribly timed award of false legitimacy for a brutal, corrupt
and authoritarian regime”.
reports of election rigging and continuing human-rights abuses Zimbabwe
is the last country that should be legitimised by a UN summit of
any kind,” said Hillel Neuer, the head of UN Watch, which
monitors the UN’s observance of democracy.
that the UN should spin this country as a lovely tourist destination
is, frankly, sickening,” Neuer said.
But UNWTO secretary
general Taleb Rifai said the body had no regrets about awarding
the event to Zimbabwe.
was correct, we do not regret it,” Rifai said.
who choose to criticise us must go into the streets in Victoria
Falls and Livingstone and experience the impact themselves.”
assembly was a huge success, with record attendance and efficient
organisation. It boosted Mugabe, who rubbed detractors’ noses
hosts dinner guests
Sata [of Zambia] and I have since signed the golden book of tourism
[signed by UNWTO leaders], thus becoming ambassadors for global
tourism, never mind the chagrin of some of our detractors over this
matter,” he said
In the gardens
of the colonial-era Victoria Falls Hotel on Sunday, Mugabe hosted
more than a thousand dinner guests, regaling them with odes to the
beauty of Africa and urging fellow African nations to open up their
on its way back to international acceptance after years of isolation,
he told the gathering.
and political crisis, which he once again blamed on the West, had
prevented Zimbabwe from participating in international bodies such
as the UNWTO, he said.
But the formation
of the unity government had “led to the somewhat softening
of the stance against us on the part of our political and economic
Now, he said,
the country’s co-hosting of the UNWTO general assembly and
its election to head the body’s Africa chapter showed that
it was finally back where it belonged.
to the values of the UN
Zimbabwe, he said, remained committed to the values of the UN, “not
withstanding our adversity to the hegemonic tendencies of some of
the world’s economic and military super-powers who dominate
Mugabe is calling
for more open borders, saying Africa will not increase its share
of global tourist arrivals if it does not promote intra-African
Seizing on his
new role as “tourism ambassador”, Mugabe had guests
eating out of his hand, waxing lyrical about Africa’s unique
you will every morning wake up to the chirping of our birds and
the aura of the African sun, and at the end of each day, go to sleep
under the star-filled African sky,” he said, to loud cheers
from the guests.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.