TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi has insisted that he is not running away from the political chaos in Zimbabwe and the intriguing power scrap bedevilling President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF over the emotive succession issue.
At 53, Mzembi said he had chosen to succeed in the world and to test himself in a “global classroom” after which he expects to be better prepared for “any eventuality in the future”, an indication he probably has ambitions for Zimbabwe’s top job in future. Mzembi was speaking in London at the weekend where he, among other things, addressed a two-day Zimbabwe Strategy Marketing Indaba organised by Earnest Kadembo.
The Tourism minister, once described by Mugabe as the “best”, said he and others had decided to keep away from the succession debate because it was myopically obsessing about individuals rather than ideas.
Mugabe turned 93 last month; he has since been endorsed as the Zanu PF party’s candidate for elections due next year.
The veteran leader has ruled out retirement, claiming he does not see a competent successor among his top lieutenants, but the ruling party remains at war over the issue.
Zanu PF is divided between two faction with one backing Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, while a rival grouping is determined to stop him; the latter faction reportedly coalesces around Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
High-level sources, however, argue Mugabe is being used as a ruse by a power-hungry group of young leaders fronted by Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere and his friend Jonathan Moyo, who heads the Higher Education ministry.
Mzembi said the debate should not be about individuals, but a contestation of ideas about how to make Zimbabwe a country of opportunity for its young and comfort for its old.
The Tourism minister also criticised the country’s fiscal policies, the failure to enforce productive use of the land, innumerable roadblocks on the roads and their impact on tourism.
Mzembi is campaigning to become secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, but Zimbabwe’s poisoned politics has threatened to curtail his bid. He rejected suggestions that he was trying to leave due to frustration with the succession chaos and government’s policy missteps.