Zimbabwean Minister Mzembi Blasts ‘Deeply Flawed’ UNWTO Process – Report

Zimbabwe's Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi.

The Hon. Minister of Tourism and Hospitality for Zimbabwe has reportedly introduced his position papers on what he calls flawed process surrounding the recent election for Secretary General at the UNWTO Executive Council meeting in Madrid on May 12, according to a unwtowire.com report.

Walter Mzembi lost by a small margin to Ambassador Zurab Pololikashvili of Georgia.

A Deeply Flawed Process

The primary concern – and this is shared by several global tourism authorities, both public and private – is that the entire electoral process which unfolded in Madrid on 12 May was deeply flawed and, in the immediate run-up to the vote, may well have been deliberately manipulated by a complicit Secretariat to the extent that clear prejudice was caused to the candidates, some more than others.

The election was held on 12 May, 2017, in Madrid, Spain, within the context of the 105th Meeting of the UNWTO Executive Council.

The election outcome remains inconclusive until the Secretary General-elect obtains the endorsement, by way of voting, of a two-thirds majority of UNWTO members at the forthcoming General Assembly to be held from 13-16 September 2017 in Chengdu, the People’s Republic of China.

The 12 May elections in Madrid were allegedly  marred by a number of procedural and other irregularities which, taken together, served not only to undermine the integrity of the process but also to cast doubt upon the outcome produced by what was clearly a profoundly flawed process.

The African Candidate

As has been well-documented, the African candidate – in the person of Hon Dr Walter Mzembi (M.P.) of Zimbabwe – announced his intention to run for the post as early as 1 April, 2016. At that stage he had already secured the unanimous endorsement of the 15 Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states. On 17 July, 2016, he received the unanimous endorsement of African Heads of State and Government at the AU Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda.

From that point forward, he campaigned on the basis of being the African Union-endorsed candidate for the post of UNWTO Secretary General. In all instances, African countries were unanimous and party to this endorsement from SADC right up to the AU. 4

The Surprising and Unexpected Entry of Seychelles into the Race – To Confuse and Divide

On 28 December, 2016, the Minister of Tourism of Seychelles, Mr Alain St Ange, announced that he was resigning his Cabinet post in order to enter the contest for the post of UNWTO Secretary General.

This candidature, from another African country, which was to continue until the eve of the election itself – at which point, under pressure from the African Union Commission, the Government  of Seychelles withdrew its nomination of Mr St Ange – served to divide Africa and to confuse members of the Executive Council, and is a material component of the flawed electoral process which then ensued.

UNWTO Election – Essential Background

The Secretary General of the UNWTO is an elective post. The mandate is for 4 years, renewable once.

The incumbent Secretary General, Dr Taleb Rifai – a Jordanian national – is nearing the end of his second mandate. That mandate expires on 31 December, 2017. His successor is expected to assume office as from 1 January, 2018 and serve until 31 December, 2021.

The Executive Council comprises 33 member states, from six geographical regions, and constitutes the body which, through the Secretariat, basically runs the Organisation in between meetings of the full membership – known as the General Assembly – which are convened every second year.

With regard to the election of the Secretary General, it is the Executive Council which serves as an Electoral College, and which, by a process of voting, selects a Secretary General-elect whose name is then submitted to the General Assembly for endorsement.

Such endorsement by the General Assembly must be by way of a two thirds majority of member states present and voting.

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