It’s not yet over …we still have a chance at UNWTO: Mzembi

By Daniel Chigundu

TOURISM and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi says he still has an outside chance of landing the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary general post.

Mzembi had the backing of the African Union, one of the largest blocs with 10 of the 33 members of the UNWTO Executive Council, but went on to lose in the second round of the elections to Georgian candidate Zurab Pololikashvili.

Pololikashvili polled 18 votes while the Zimbabwean minister only managed 15 votes. Interestingly Mzembi had outclassed Pololikashvili by the same margin in the first round winning 11 votes against 8.

Addressing the media for the first time since losing the UNWTO elections, Minister Mzembi said the contest is not yet over as Pololikashvili still has to win the final selection process during the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, China, this coming September.

“We are still the dark horse going to September 11-16 when the UNWTO shall convene us for a 22nd General Assembly at that time; the lead candidate from Georgia will be required to master two thirds of the seating members.

“If we are sitting in absolute terms at 157 members, it means he will be required to master a 102 member country endorsement by voting in order to be appointed the new secretary general.

“So we will be there to make sure that we are correctly and strategically positioned to take advantage of any outcome that may ensue at the time and I want at this juncture to leave it at that,” he said.

Despite Mzembi’s expectations for a miracle at the General Assembly, the current secretary general Dr.Taleb Rifai reportedly told eTurboNews that he has no reason to believe Pololikashvili will not be confirmed as it has never happened before.

“We have no reason to believe that the General Assembly will not confirm the selected nominee. As has always been the case in the past, the candidate nominated by the Executive Council, we believe will be confirmed by the General Assembly.

“In the “unlikely situation”, that would not be the case, then it is the responsibility of the General Assembly, as the UNWTO supreme organ, to decide on next steps.” He said.

Meanwhile, Minister Mzembi has revealed that he has a lot to share from his experiences during his one year campaign trail, but will only do so after briefing President Robert Mugabe first.

“I know you are very curious to hear from me and to share on my year long journey on this campaign.

“It’s full of many experiences that I actually wish and I am yearning to share with you but the time is not yet right because I still have to brief the principal and seek direction in terms of our way forward and only after that will I invite you and I hope you will turn up in huge numbers so that you can disseminate the message going forward,” he said

Since its inception in 1975, the UNWTO has not had an African as its secretary general and some opinionated that it could be the reason why Mzembi failed to win the top post despite coming close.-

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