SA minister blames Mzembi loss on division

SOUTH African Tourism minister Tokozile Xasa on Wednesday expressed dismay at African countries not supporting each other and failing to vote Zimbabwe Tourism minister Walter Mzembi secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

by Faith Zaba in Durban

Walter Mzembi
Walter Mzembi

Xasa told journalists at the Tourism Indaba in Durban that she was exasperated by the lack of unity on the continent, which saw some African countries vote for European candidates.

Mzembi lost narrowly last week in Spain to Georgia’s Zurab Polilakashvilli in a tightly-contested UNWTO election for the secretary-general post.

The Zimbabwe Tourism minister, whom Xasa described as the most senior and most experienced minister in the world, led the first round by 11 votes to Georgia’s eight, but eventually lost in the second round after getting 15 votes, three short of his rival’s 18.

There are 33 member States in the UNWTO executive council, which constitute the electoral college, of which 10 are from Africa, Europe 10, Middle East three, South Asia two, Americas five and East Asia three.

Xasa accused Seychelles, which withdrew its candidate, Alain St Ange, just before the race, of causing the confusion which contributed to Mzembi’s loss.

“But the unfortunate part is that of the five candidates, there was a second candidate from Africa. Which means the vote from Africa was divided into two,” she said.

In addition, Xasa said, other African countries supported European candidates when the two had already split the votes.

“I am trying to demonstrate something here. We won the first round with flying colours. We got 11 and I can tell you that the 11 was not constituted by the African countries,” she said.

“That I can tell you straight up, minister Mzembi was number one with 11 votes and the second candidate had eight, third seven and fourth three. I am not counting the fifth because just a day before the election, the second candidate had to be withdrawn by his country, Seychelles, as it had at first supported him. The damage had already been done.”

Xasa added: “The third aspect was technical when a person is given space to withdraw in an executive council and yet he is not an executive member of the council. It hit so hard on Africa and the African Union. Do you think people will take us seriously? After that, they didn’t.

“We won round one. The only black person was him (Mzembi) and the rest were white. I am not trying to be racist, but that is how the industry is transformed. And how Africa is perceived, it is either through us or through what we do or on colour lines. He was the only one. He had beaten all of them first round.

Xasa said if Africa had been united, Mzembi would have won the elections.

“I am convinced that had we been more united, we would have taken it. Sitting here I am convinced that we could have taken that because he is the longest-serving minister of tourism that we have in the world. He has been serving in the executive council of the UNWTO. He has accumulated a lot of experience, hence he is chairing the commission for Africa, which is the continental arm of that world tourism body,” she said.

Xasa alluded to racism playing a part at the elections at the United Nations organ.

Since its inception in 1975, it has not been run by an African and the continent had hoped to make history through Mzembi.

“What is being picked is just the country he comes from and gets supported for that,” Xasa said.

“Come second round, we had just lumped all of them against us. We lost by three votes only. I think we tested them big time. So the current person who succeeded comes from a very small country called Georgia. He is only an ambassador of Georgia in Spain. He has not even been at the realm of tourism.”

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  1. Ichi iChokwadi

    vaMuzembi deserves an award, best minister. He works and is practical. Sorry for the loss.

    Keep it up Sir!

    1. Muzembi lost because he is Minister in an illegitimate government…and in any case like his colleague Biti he is big on speeches and a tad LOW on deliverables. He is also not a level headed person..remember the attempt to invade that chicken farm in Masvingo? I think we should look deeper into individuals not this over-hyped cheer leading NONSENSE…It is what got the country in the mess we find ourselves.

  2. tendai chaminuka

    Chokwadi chaicho Honourable Xasa.Also the colonial mentality that an African can not do anything positive in a high office.What has lost is World Tourism not Mzembi

  3. Part of the loss could be attributed to the fact that he supports a regime that murdered thousands during Gukurahundi, murdered thousands during the land invasions, murdered thousands during election periods and left thousands homeless during Murambatsvina right in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. THAT is the reason why he may have lost. Don’t be fooled that Mugabe gets applauded during visits to other african countries. They like him for who he is but rabidly do NOT want him to be a president in their country because they know his economic mismanagement and the smell of blood on his hands.

  4. Other African countries exercised their right to choose what they thought was right for them as opposed to a groupie kind of thought or clan based thinking like Xasa’s that says i will vote for a white man because i am white or i will vote for a black man because i am black, i will vote for an Asian because i am Asian, for a European because i am European. If that’s what this lady calls unity then she is lost. Let people choose their candidates based on who they perceive to be competent . Length of service alone does not guarantee experience to deal with arising problems. This type of thinking is why there is so much tribalism, xenophobia and sectarianism in Africa. It’s like saying i wont vote for a Ndebele candidate because i am Shona or vice versa. Get over it Xasa.

  5. What has he done? we hear about the mantra that he works hard, but tourism in Zim is still dead, visitor numbers have not grown, zim tourism is still very expensive and shunned by many who prefer to go to Zambia, South Africa, Mauritius, Madagascar, Sycheles, Kenya etc. Those countries have better numbers and reap much more than Zim from tourism. So what really has Mzembi done? Unongonzi he works…working with no results?


  6. i think he loose from west Africans anyway well done papa.

  7. nutty professor

    even if he had won the seat it wont fix anything here in zim so he can lose a million times over and we dont care

  8. The problem with Mzembi is that if he was to be voted into power he is not going to relinguish power like his master. He was also going to run down the organisation like they have done to their country Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans (Zanu PF) are known to be greedy and will tend to be corrupt to satisfy their greediness. Why vote or support someone of thi calibre?

  9. country image counts a lot. the ones we keep throwing bricks at don’t take it lying down.

  10. Good Mzembi lost, he has to work hard to make tourism right in Zimbabwe first. Why should African countries for a Mugabe stooge, they have to vote for the best candidate wherever he comes from. You need the best person for any job not where they come from. This SA minister is out touch.

  11. So what after àll he was using public funds to look for “his” own job nobody else was going to benefit so save that African oneness mentra chorus for a song, we know better

  12. So people don’t vote for an African candidate from an illegitimate government….and they don’t vote for an African candidate because he/she does not have sufficient experience and qualifications. The Georgian fellow knows nothing about tourism except that he is Caucasian, and was already based in Madrid, doing illegal deals. The truth is Africans have a problem in agreeing to do things as a group. Europeans knows that very well, and thus why the rule Africa. A white slaver trader would dock his ship off the coast of Africa, and Africans themselves would hunt each other to fill the boat with human cargo and thereafter be rewarded with whiskey, a few guns and cigarettes. St Ange and Seychelles government proven beyond reasonable doubt that they take orders from the capitals of the Northern Hemisphere, yes St. Ange betrayed our cause. He is our modern day Moïse Kapenda Tshombe, the traitorous character of African Uhuru. When St. Ange is confronted by other Africans why he sold out the cause of his own, he is likely to protest indicating that he really does not look like an African!

  13. Hamadzangu Mzembi is one of the best Zimbabwe Givernment I have met. Go to his office you meet. He is man who knows that he is a civil servant for sure and he is a servant for the people and is not a boss. Who can match in Zimbabwe. Who can match this man in Zimbabwe hey this is a power full. Your excellency can you not make this man your successor, I mean the President for Zimbabwe.

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