Africa: Zimbabwe appointed into the AU-STC Committee as AU plans Tourism Organization in 2018

The Zimbabwe delegation to the First Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Specialised Technical Committee (STC) on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism, led by the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon.  Anastancia Ndhlovu (MP), has made Zimbabwe proud after the Southern African nation was unanimously elected to the position of the Vice Chair of the Bureau of the AU-STC.

The AU-STC met on 17 March 2017 in Lome, Togo and elected the Bureau on the basis of Rule Number 16 of the Rules of Procedure under the African Union Commission on Infrastructure and Energy.

The Bureau is made up of the Chairperson, 3 Vice Chairpersons, as well as a Rapporteur.  Zimbabwe was elected as the 2nd Vice Chair, representing the Tourism sector and the Southern African region in the AU-STC for the next two years, until 2019.

The other members of the Bureau which will meet once every year are Togo -Chairperson (representing the Transport sector and the West African region), Mauritania-1st Vice Chair (representing the Energy sector and the North African region), Ethiopia-3rd Vice Chair (representing the Energy sector and the East African region) and Congo -Rapporteur (representing the Transport sector and the Central African region).

The Bureau is the Executive Organ of Ministers responsible for Infrastructure, Energy, Transport and Tourism sectors tasked with providing policy and oversight leadership role to the Work Programmes of the African Union Commission on Infrastructure and Energy, and the Specialised Technical Committee of Experts.

The election of Zimbabwe into the Bureau of the African Union Commission on Infrastructure and Energy has come hardly a year following yet another successful tenure of Zimbabwe’s Chairmanship of the AU by His Excellency the President, Cde R.G. Mugabe, from January 2015 to January 2016. Following this election, the elated Deputy Minister Hon. Anastancia Ndhlovu said, “This election is the approval and endorsement of the great work done by the greatest son of Africa, His Excellency, President R.G. Mugabe, when he steered the AU Summit to a landmark adoption of the Agenda 2063, anchored on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. This is very exciting indeed and it only confirms the legacy of the unparalled leadership of His Excellency, the President”.

The election of Zimbabwe to lead the Southern Region of Africa in the Bureau of the African Union Commission on Infrastructure and Energy representing the Tourism sector, is happening when the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Hon. Dr. Walter Mzembi has successfully submitted his application to become the next Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), for the next 4 years, from 2018 to 2021, to the Headquarters of the Madrid-based global tourism organization. Hon. Dr Walter Mzembi is currently continuing with his world-wide outreach effort to garner international support for the country’s bid represented by him to secure the top job at the UNWTO.

Elections for the next Secretary General will take place at the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid, Spain from 11 to 12 May 2017, during the course of the 105th session of the Organisations 33 member Executive Council meeting.

Asked what the election into AU-STC Bureau means to Zimbabwe’s bid for the top UNWTO post, Deputy Minister Anastancia Ndhlovu had this to say, “I can confirm that the election of Zimbabwe further re-affirms the visionary leadership qualities of Hon. Minister Mzembi, as the current Chairperson of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa (CAF) and the African Union-endorsed candidate for the UNWTO post, who has been very articulate on Zimbabwe’s and African tourism issues at a global scale.

Therefore, this election will definitely be a boost to Hon. Minister Mzembi’s election bid, since the policy issues we pushed through to the apex of the African Union Commission on Infrastructure and Energy today reflect his vision for Africa’s tourism and the global tourism industry”.

The unanimous election of Zimbabwe to lead the AU-STC Bureau in the area of Tourism came against the background of a protracted discussion in the STC meetings that saw Zimbabwe taking a stand for the mainstreaming and the institutionalisation of tourism in the 2063 Agenda of the AU and its structures, respectively. The sterling presentation and articulation of these policy issues by Zimbabwe paid dividend when the African Union Commission on Infrastructure and Energy agreed to establish a Directorate or Unit on Tourism in the structures of the Organisation by December 2018, in order to provide policy support and coordination of the proposed African Tourism Organisation.

Currently, there is no physical presence of tourism in all the structures of the AUC, despite the celebration of the sector as the third economic activity after fuels and chemicals, on the global scale. The UNWTO 2016 Report indicates that global tourism grew by 4.6% in the year 2015 while Africa declined by 3% in the same year, the trend Zimbabwe is fighting to reverse for the benefit of all African countries and other developing tourist destinations of the world.

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