It is now confirmed, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Dr Walter Mzembi is now Africa’s official candidate for the United Nations World Tourism Organization Secretary General’s post. Dr Mzembi’s candidature was finally endorsed by the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit in Kigali, Rwanda on Monday, after going through all the bureaucratic process of the 54 member organization, unopposed.
The Secretary General’s post falls vacant in May 2017 when incumbent Dr Taleb Rifai’s term expires. Nomination for the post will be held in Egypt in October, upon which Dr Mzembi will officially know his opponents.
With the African Union rallying behind him, Dr Mzembi who is viewed by many in the world tourism family as a unifier, eloquent, astute and visionary, gets the much needed head start of nine votes. Dr Mzembi’s journey to the candidature started with his nomination by the Government of Zimbabwe and was subsequently followed by an endorsement by the SADC region and yesterday the African Union.
Dr Mzembi was appointed Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister in 2009 and immediately found his way into the UNWTO executive council, from where he has turned around the fortunes of tourism in Zimbabwe and Africa.The climax was winning the bid to co-host with Zambia, the UNWTO general assembly in 2013, becoming the first time that the assembly was held in Sub Saharan Africa, and the second ever on African soil, after Senegal became the first African country to host in 2007.
To date, Dr. Mzembi, who apparently, is the longest serving tourism minister in the UNWTO, still sits in the executive council as the chair of the UNWTO Commission for Africa. He is credited for institutionalizing tourism in the African Union, which had long overlooked tourism as a critical factor in economic and social cohesion and development.
Since the inception of UNWTO in 1975, no African has held the top position and if he wins, Dr Mzembi scores a first. There is however a general school of thought that it is now time for Africa.
Source: The Herald