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June 19, 2019

South African new Tourism Minister: Shuffle in sympathies for UNWTO Secretary General Election?

If this indicates a shift in South Africa’s influence on the election of a new UNWTO Secretary General waits to be seen. The Hon. Derek Hanekom today woke up as the minister of Tourism for South Africa. In the evening his president (Zuma) thanked him for his services. Moving against South Africa’s President Zuma by imposing a series of votes of “no confidence” against his boss did not pay off for Derek Hanekom who was just fired tonight from his post as the Minister of Tourism for the Republic of South Africa.

Replacing him is the new Hon. Minster of Tourism, Mrs. Tokozile Xasa. She is originally a teacher and taught at several high schools for 9 years before becoming the first female mayor of a district municipality in the transitional period of local government in the Eastern Cape.

She was a national executive member in the Women´s League from 1995-1997 and served as Regional Secretary for the Transkei Womens´s League from 1993-1995. She is an African National Congress (the ruling party in South Africa) activist and an ANC Member of the Provincial Legislature from 2001 until 2009 where she worked in local and traditional affairs in the Premier’s Office and in the Economic Affairs Portfolio Committees. Since 2009, she has been the Deputy Minister of Tourism in South Africa. Mrs. Tokozile Xasa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Psychology from the Walter Sisulu University and a Master’s in Public Administration from the MPA – University of Fort Hare.

Her deputy now is the Hon. Elisabeth Thabethe. She was born on September 26, 1959 and had been a Member of Parliament since 1994. She completed a Certificate in Economics with the University of South Africa (UNISA) and completed her advanced Diploma in Economics with the University of the Western Cape (UWC). She was a Co-coordinator of the East Rand Women’s League RTT structure, a member of the ANC National Parliamentary Caucus, Gauteng Provincial Whip, and a House Whip from 1996 to 2004. She chaired the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism between 2004 and June 2005, and was also a member of the committees on Labor and Trade and Industry. She was the Deputy Minister of Small Business Development.

Today’s cabinet shuffle in South Africa may also shuffle cards in the upcoming election for the UNWTO Secretary General. South Africa is a key member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization Executive Council and is known as an influencer on the African continent. This very much also counts for the travel, tourism, hospitality, and the aviation industry.

The UNWTO Secretary-General election is decided by the members of the UNWTO Executive Council. From Africa, members of the UNWTO Executive Council are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Tunisia, and Zambia.

There are currently two very capable and widely-liked candidates from Africa competing for the highest post in the United Nations World Tourism Organization. One is Alain St.Ange, the former Minister of Tourism from the Seychelles, and two is Walter Mzembi, the current Minister of Tourism and Hospitality from Zimbabwe.

One is from a country (Seychelles) with a message to the world: “We are friends of all, enemies of none,” The other candidate (Mzembi) has a global mindset and is well liked. He has a youthful and out of the box approach and established an excellent reputation also with many countries and leaders critical of Zimbabwe. His home country  (Zimbabwe) has big current challenges, but the potential of great opportunities tomorrow.

St.Ange shows the importance of personal friendship in collecting endorsements for his candidacy from private industry, from journalists and former government officials.

Mzembi had been traveling the world for months successfully drumming up support behind the scene.
He was endorsed by the African Union as Africa’s choice for UNWTO before Alain St.Ange entered the race.

Former South African Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom, a white South African, wasa supporter of UNWTO candidate Alain St.Ange, a white African from the Indian Ocean island nation, the Republic of the Seychelles.

Today, in a South African cabinet shuffle, Tourism Minister Hanekom replacement by  Mrs. Tokzile Xasa, a black South African may also adjust sympathies.  According to eTN sources, Mrs. Xasa is very much respected in Zimbabwe, and she is known to have a good understanding and friendship with UNWTO candidate Walter Mzembi from Zimbabwe.

The shift created by this South African cabinet posts may very well have an influence on the upcoming election to the UNWTO Secretary General. It could have an impact on voting members of the Executive committee in Africa and possibly beyond.

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