THE SUCCESSION RACE FOR THE UNWTO TOP JOB KICKS OFF AND THREATENS TO BECOME UGLY RIGHT AWAY
(Posted 25th March 2016)
The term of office of Dr. Taleb Rifai, often described as the best Secretary General UNWTO ever had, is coming to an end next year at the General Assembly which will be hosted by China.
Plenty of time one would think to start sounding out interested parties for a successor? Not really as Zimbabwe’s Minister for Tourism and Hospitality Hon. Walter Mzembi yesterday kickstarted the race seeking an initial endorsement from SADC, the Southern African Development Cooperation of which Zimbabwe is a member.
This somewhat unprecedented development has reportedly ruffled feathers among some SADC members but also around the world of tourism and sharpish reactions are beginning to emerge.
While this correspondent knows Hon. Walter Mzembi as a gifted politician and the longest serving tourism minister in Africa, articulate and no doubt representing the future of Zimbabwe, must in the interest of fair reporting other voices too be heard and featured, as the long march towards the vote for a new Secretary General of UNWTO clearly begins in earnest, now that Hon. Walter has thrown his hat into the ring.
Other regions in the world have already reacted or are planning to respond to Hon. Walter’s early start, but most notably has the Vanilla Island organization come out guns blazing, setting the stage for a potential showdown between African countries to determine a candidate who can be put forward and stand a chance to be elected next year in Beijing.
UNWTO General Secretary – reaction from Indian Ocean Islands to Zimbabwe as a candidate as supported by SADC
The race is not a matter of clan or group but remains a matter of unification! The Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands all depend on tourism and these islands are known as year round tourism destinations. They believe in tourism and work hard to defend the industry. The islands have been active supporters of the work of the UNWTO. The islands have always said that the position of UNWTO General Secretary after Taleb Rifai is for a unifier and one the world at large will accept. The race is not a matter of clan or group but remains a matter of unification!
According to UNWTO Wire, Zimbabwe’s minister of Tourism H.E. Walter Mzembi is trying to secure his move to become the next Secretary General of the UNWTO (United Nation World Tourism Organization). Can Zimbabwe today be seen as a country set to unify the the world of tourism through their emissary, the current Minister of Tourism?
Anyone who will replace Dr. Taleb Rifai as Secretary General will find his shoes very large to fill. The Secretariat of the Indian Ocean Islands (Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, Comoros, Maldives, Mayotte and Seychelles) will be meeting soon to make their proposal for the position known.
The UNWTO members should think about the choice they all have to make. Already the UNWTO does not have every country as member states and only recently another country dropped from the membership list. This is why the one who replaces Dr. Taleb Rifai needs to be a real unifier with the country he today serves seen and respected as an example in the Community of Nations.
Published by CEO Vanilla Islands; the current President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands is Mauritius’ Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism. the Rt. Hon. Xavier-Luc Duval. Mauritius is a member of the African Union and also a member of SADC.
What is now clear is that a red line in the sand has been drawn, battlegrounds been staked out and that the political knives are being sharpened among potential African candidates.
While an open contest of this kind may have its merits will the rest of the world probably look on with some bemusement and scheme up their own plans to succeed Dr. Taleb Rifai next year. A divided Africa will no doubt be easier to conquer when it comes to the vote, especially as suggestions have been circulating that China, as the host of the next General Assembly of UNWTO, may field an own candidate, having become the world’s leading outbound tourism country and host to more and more foreign tourists.
This is a major global development as the battle is shaping up so make sure you watch this space for updates and regular reports towards the next UNWTO General Assembly in Beijing next year.