By Sugar Chagonda
THE just ended 104th session meeting of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)has approved the electoral procedures, guidelines and road map for the 2017 plebiscite.
Approved guidelines are expected to provide a road map for the election of the new Secretary General of the organisation, who will replace Dr Taleb Rifai, whose tenure ends in December 2017.
UNWTO will formally announce the vacancy for its top post this month through note verbales to be sent to all member states. The meeting also set 11 March 2017 as the deadline for the receipt of applications.
The latest development mean, Zimbabwe’s Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Dr Walter Mzembi, who is also Africa’s candidate and other aspiring candidates from other member states, can now formally present their applications and credentials to the UNWTO Secretariat before the deadline which is two months before the elective 105th session of the UNWTO Executive Council meeting to be held in Madrid, Spain in May 2017.
The meeting in Egypt also agreed that the Executive Council will, in August 2017, recommend the successful candidate for the secretary General’s post to the UNWTO General Assembly, about a month before the 22nd session of the General Assembly to be held between 4 and 9 September 2017 in Chengdu, China.
It is at this forum where the election of the Secretary General for the period 2018 to 2021 will be done.
Dr Mzembi has since outlined his 10 Point Plan which is the bedrock of his election manifesto. The plan is underpinned by his vision for a UNWTO that is responsive to member States’ aspirations for global tourism that is inclusive, integrative, tolerant and responsible economically empowering, equitable and sustainable and as an effective tool for people to people solidarity and citizen diplomacy.
So far Dr Mzembi’s opponents remain largely unknown and undeclared. Global tourism analysts believe it’s time for Africa, and if this happens it will be the first time ever that an African takes over the reins of this powerful United Nations Agency, which came into existence in 1975.