TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi is a man on a mission, and at 53, he has chosen to succeed in the world and to test himself in a “global classroom”.
He is aware that Zimbabweans expect him to be better prepared for “any eventuality in the future”. Clearly, Zimbabweans do not expect him to fail – not at all – given the support he has received this far.
We also urge Zimbabweans to rally behind Mzembi’s cause. While President Robert Mugabe has played a big role in Mzembi’s endorsement by other countries, the minister has acquitted himself well by detaching from the toxic Zanu PF succession wrangles.
In fact, he has remained focused, and there is no doubt that Mzembi has no reason to fail with Africa and allies’ support. What makes Mzembi’s campaign unique is it has literally taken him across the entire world over the past year, and the core of his campaign strategy has been to explain his vision for the future development of global tourism under the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) if he were to be elected to the top position come May 12.
We believe these worldwide engagements have helped Mzembi to shape his vision in a manner which accurately reflects the concerns, hopes and aspirations of the vast majority of UNWTO member States, including Zimbabwe.
We have no doubt that his campaign has worked well for Zimbabwe’s unique tourism product, a situation which has resulted in major airlines flocking to the Victoria Falls International Airport.
Indeed, tourism can be the driver of the economy, but the country’s leadership must be aware that it is a highly sensitive industry – it is about perception, it is about good governance and it is about being rightly priced not only for the international market, but for domestic visitors too.
Mzembi has allowed the country to realise its potential in the global tourism economy, and if this is nurtured the industry has great potential going forward.
It is time, therefore, for government to do away with toxic policies that impede on the development of tourism in the country. The coming on board of several foreign airlines to the Victoria Falls clearly shows that the tourism industry can run parallel to all other economic clusters only if the sector can be weaned from the contaminated Zanu PF politics disfiguring Mugabe’s legacy.
No doubt, with Mzembi at the top of the UNWTO, Zimbabwe is headed for a quantum leap forward. Mugabe should learn a thing from this campaign, that for as long as Zimbabwe continues on a self-destructive course, poor governance will hinder her continued progression.
We have no doubt that when Mugabe chose Mzembi to represent the country in the race for the UN job, he wanted change. True, the world is transforming, and change is confirmed as the only constant. There is no need to fear change, but glean from its ideas.
We should not fear renewal, but see in it an opportunity for regeneration. Undeniably, Mzembi is representing change – to adapt to those challenges hindering tourism development in Africa.
In Mzembi, we will have a global diplomat; a leader who will effectively raise our profile, the voice and the relevance of not only UNWTO, but Zimbabwe within the broad UN system.
But, change too is required at the very apex of Zimbabwean politics. It is, therefore, critical for Mugabe to respond effectively to these fast-changing circumstances – that the right individual be elected to succeed him next year.
Comment: NewsDay Editor