Last week the Hon. Walter Mzembi, Chair of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa (CAF) and serving Zimbabwe as the minister of Tourism and Hospitality proposed to add items to the agenda of the UNWTO General Assembly and to discuss the UNWTO Secretary General selection and appointment. The next UNWTO General Assembly is set for September to be held in Chengdu, China.
Numerous feedback WorldTourismWire received from competent sources and members of the inner UNWTO circle stated that Mzembi’s request can be good and useful, but adding those items to the agenda should not be taken for granted. Some say one should expect loads of stalling and procrastination to ultimately kill this initiative.
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In the meantime, Dr. Walter Mzembi wants to put those at ease that may think this initiative is only about Mzembi’s ambition to become the next UNWTO Secretary General. He told WorldTourismWire: “Contrary to a line running in sections of our UNWTO Secretariat which wants to reduce genuine calls for reform of an archaic electoral system to a personal fight between me and Zurab and a bigoted campaign against Zimbabwe, I hold no animosity against or towards anyone including the current Secretary General, whom I still consider a friend. ”
“But genuine friendship seeks to protect the other’s legacy by advising the rightly. And legacy is also written by leaving the organization in competent and safe hands, and that is a function of sound statutes and rules of procedure. As part of the team that has governed with the current Secretary General uninterrupted for nearly a decade, we can easily suffer a collective indictment of failing to be succeeded competently. So not so much about Ambassador Zurab Pololikashvili who benefited from an opaque process but us who failed to tighten procedures, and I am saying it’s not too late to fix this by advising rightly and professionally.”
Emotions apparently are high: Another concerned senior tourism Executive within UNWTO unrelated to Zimbabwe or Africa made it even more clear in telling WorldTourismWire: “The proposal submitted by Zimbabwe seems to be a step in the right direction, that of holding the Secretariat to account. I hope more members will follow Zimbabwe´s example by demanding explanations not only to unsound policy but also to many reckless, unethical and abusive managerial practices that are putting the future of the Organization at risk. The Secretariat is crying out for a true internal management audit.”
“The Secretary General must not arrive at the General Assembly feeling immune to make deals, with total impunity, with the most influential members of the Organization at the expense of the future of the institution.”
“It is not about attacking him or anyone. It is about exposing the true nature of the situation we are in now. Instead of leaving behind a sound Secretariat at the service of global tourism and its stakeholders, a wretched exhausted Secretariat – with demoralized staff – is about to be handed to incompetent hands that risk throwing the entire Organization over a cliff. There are people around who care, who are watching and who see beyond this curtain of propaganda. “
WorldTourismWire reached out to UNWTO on Zimbabwe’s intervention but has not yet received a response. Apparently, Dr. Rifai was traveling in Congo at the time of our request after a two-day return left for Africa again.