PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe says the co-hosting of the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly by Zimbabwe and Zambia had rekindled his late colleague Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s long-held dream of a United States of Africa.
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Addressing guests at the official opening of the world tourism indaba in Victoria Falls last night, Mugabe said: “Events like this one will help achieve such an objective.
“It’s my hope that the dream and vision of our founding fathers of a United States of Africa will come as a reality one day. . . I hope this will happen sooner rather than later,” Mugabe said, adding that the introduction of a Uni-Visa to enable intra-Africa travel among citizens, will go a long way in facilitating the realisation of this dream.
The setting up of a seamless border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, he said, should extend to all African touristy borders and that it should be “a rule rather than an exception”.
The indaba, the first in Southern Africa being co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia ends on Thursday. Zambian President Michael Sata co-officiated at the opening ceremony.
The United States of Africa is a proposed concept for a federation of some or all of the 55 sovereign states of Africa.
Gaddafi, who was the 2009 chairperson of the African Union (AU), advanced the idea of a United States of Africa at two regional African summits: first in June 2007 in Conakry, Guinea, and again in February 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Gaddafi had previously pushed for its creation at a summit at Lomé, Togo in 2000, having described the AU as a failure on a number of occasions. Gaddafi asserted that only a true pan-African State could provide stability and wealth to Africa.
Mugabe reiterated his anti-Western mantra, blaming the United States and Europe for imposing a “debilitating sanctions regime” which he said had hurt the Zimbabwean economy badly.
He said he was, however, committed to leveraging the tourism sector to make it a key driver of the economy, adding that his signing of the Golden Book of Tourism was testimony to his commitment.
Speaking at the same occasion, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi said Zimbabwe and Zambia had set themselves a target to achieve a $30 billion economy from tourism by 2020.
Vice-President Joice Mujuru was among several dignitaries including UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai and senior government officials from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.