Battling Cancer and let down by World Tourism: Dr. Walter Mzembi


What happened to Dr. Walter Mzembi, former minister of Tourism and Hospitality for Zimbabwe, and former candidate for UNWTO Secretary-General?

Dr. Mzembi is currently getting medical treatment battling cancer in South Africa and is frustrated. He is trying to understand where the African tourism family is when one of its own is being persecuted?

eTN Chatroom: Discuss with readers from around the world:

There are many indications Dr. Mzembi is being harassed while we all watch.

They have persecuted him for nearly a year now, on some incomprehensible criminal charges brought up by the new government in Zimbabwe.

Such charges touch on the integrity of the UNWTO itself. It’s a seemingly sophisticated witch hunt meant to discredit his legacy with the UNWTO, where he with distinction led the Commission for Africa from 2013 to 2017 for two consecutive terms.

Mzembi set the agenda for continental tourism policy formulation. His successor Najib Balala, minister of tourism from Kenya acknowledged his legacy at the last UNWTO Commission of Africa Meeting in which Africa reaffirmed its support for his candidature for the post of UNWTO Secretary-General position.

Dr. Mzembi honorably lost this election by a two-country margin on behalf of Africa. Where is Africa when one of its own is being persecuted?

The prosecution or better persecution of such a distinguished African citizen is a negative exercise for global tourism, it’s negative for Africa and specifically Zimbabwe.
Dr. Mzembi is a resource that any Government and Africa should exploit to its advantage.

How do you reconcile this with the way the new dispensation in Zimbabwe is treating Walter Mzembi?

Did they forgot his work co-hosting the 20th session UNWTO General Assembly at Victoria Falls in what was described by then Secertary General Taleb Rifai as the “best ever and most attended General Assembly in the history of General Assemblies”

Walt Mzembi brought the global tourism family attending the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, China to a five-hour gridlock insisting on the procedure on the affirmation of the now Secretary General. It ended with him compromising and giving his concession speech din with humility he congratulating his rival, the current UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

Former Minister Mzembi and for a decade steered Zimbabwe through the most difficult period and got many endorsements for his country. He has been seen as a true patriot that it makes us wonder why such good deeds could be so easily forgotten on the expediency of a new dispensation in Zimbabwe.

Perhaps Dr. Mzembi has a point when he asked eTurboNews: “Where is the international tourism family when one of its own is being persecuted?”

Click here to read the letter of acknowledgment by the Zimbabwe government


Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.