Well this is awfully troubling. Robert Mugabe, and his buddy, and political ally, Zambian president Michael Sata, have been honoured as “leaders for tourism” by the UN’s World Tourism Organisation. They join the likes of Drew Barrymore, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, and Ricky Martin.
If ever the UN’s choice of ambassadors is to be questioned, it’s now. Robert Mugabe needs no introduction, and we know he thoroughly enjoys his trips to Singapore, but the UN’s credibility with respect to this latest decision is palpable.
Mugabe, 88, and Sata, 75, signed an agreement with the UN’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary general, Taleb Rifai, on their shared border at Victoria Falls.
The agreement also ratifies that the two southern African countries will co-host the UNWTO general assembly in August next year.
Movement for Democratic Change spokesperson, Kumbi Muchemwa, said:
I can’t see any justification for the man being an ambassador. An ambassador for what? The man has blood on his hands. Do they want tourists to see those bloody hands?
Robert Mugabe is under international sanctions, so how do you have an international tourism ambassador who can’t travel to other countries?
The UN is losing credibility in this process. Does it think people should go to a country where the law is not obeyed? An MDC activist was murdered last Saturday.
Zimbabwe is doing things which don’t encourage the arrival of tourists.
Good points, those.
John Makumbe, a politics professor at the University of Zimbabwe, said:
I think it’s ridiculous because Zimbabwe is one of the countries least used by tourists. Tourism is at its lowest level because of the political and economic crises it’s gone through.
Tourists really wish Victoria Falls was in another country, like South Africa.
Robert Mugabe will do more damage to international tourism than good. His image is in tatters, his country is an international pariah. It undermines the reputation of the UNWTO as being detached from the reality on the ground in terms of human rights violations and political instability.
Zanu-PF were obviously smug about the decision, and spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, took the opportunity to convey some propaganda:
There’s no alternative but to accept the reality on the ground. We can theorise about sanctions but the reality is that the UN is in control of the situation. If you can’t defeat them, join them: that is what we are witnessing. The situation on the ground in Zimbabwe is not as bad as portrayed. If we say this ourselves, you say it’s propaganda.
What do you expect from the MDC? They are paid by the US and Europeans and they have nothing else to offer. They keep making noise but the reality on the ground is different.
Nice one, UNWTO.
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