President [Robert] Mugabe yesterday took a swipe at the British and Americans for attempting to sabotage the 20th Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization general assembly by making false claims that a bomb had been planted in Victoria Falls.
Departing from his prepared speech at the official closing dinner of the UNWTO general assembly here last night, President Mugabe said the scare tactic was meant to drive delegates away and kill the mega event that the Americans, British and Canada boycotted, claiming alleged human rights violations and closure of democratic space in Zimbabwe, pronouncements that pale into insignificance when contrasted with the massive endorsement of the harmonized elections by the progressive world.
“We are not terrorists, we are not murderers. We don’t kill people. There was a post on the Internet from London that a bomb had been planted somewhere here for you to be scared and disperse.
“Then also from Washington and we are surprised, is the warning given to those wanting to visit this country saying that visiting the Victoria Falls was dangerous.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you are now our ambassadors to go to tell the truth. We seek no harm to others. We seek friendship and co-operation. We seek peace and not war in Africa. We seek good neighborliness and respect for each other’s territorial integrity.
“May those of our neighbors in this world who regard themselves as superior, recognize that small as we are, God has given us the fortune and the wealth in our country and nature in our country, the wonders in our country. And, there is no great wonder, no greater dream than the natural mighty dream of the Victoria Falls. How it came about (the Victoria Falls) only nature knows. Dreams come about because we the humans sleep and our minds work on them but the Victoria Falls was nature’s own dream,” the President said to applause from delegates.
President Mugabe said the detractors needed to visit the Victoria Falls for cleansing.
“The Victoria Falls was nature’s dream. Let those who would want to see harm rather than peace, come and they will have their minds repaired at the Victoria Falls. We have a remedy for them here,” he said.
President Mugabe said the successful co-hosting of the general assembly was a great brand endorsement for Zimbabwe and Zambia and that Zimbabwe which was elected to the chairmanship of the African Commission of the UNWTO general assembly, will work with all countries on the continent to ensure that tourism is used for sustainable economic development and empowerment of communities.
“This historic attendance is indeed an endorsement of our destination and a welcome statement to all doubting minds that our continent and, in particular, our two countries remain must visit tourism destinations.
“I believe all participants have benefitted from the enlightening presentations and discussions by technical experts from across the globe, particularly the Ministerial Roundtable, which tackled the issue of visa regimes to facilitate entry into tourist destinations.
“I am mindful that Zimbabwe’s elevation to the chairmanship of the regional commission for Africa (CAF) places an obligation on us to work with all African countries and relevant agencies in promoting sustainable tourism initiatives,” said President Mugabe.
President Mugabe said there was need for Africa countries to move with time and craft pro-active policies and adapt to new technology in order to remain relevant to changes in the world tourism trends.
“… As a region, we must continue to adapt to new technologies that enhance visa applications and processing formalities. Furthermore, there is need to continue improving connectivity and accessibility of destinations.
“This is in line we key resolutions of this general assembly that recognized the close linkage between travel facilitation and tourism development as a tool to stimulate sustainable tourism demand.
“We need to continue working together not only as SADC region, but also as a continent, under the auspices of the UNWTO to promote tourism, in itself, a key pillar of our economic growth and development,” he said.
President Michael Sata of Zambia said his country would work with the rest of the continent to ensure that UNWTO resolutions are implemented.
Although UNWTO closed officially last night, delegates still have issues to deliberate until Friday, including adopting resolution and the plan of action.