8 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Polls Should Precede UNWTO - Mzembi

TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have agreed that elections should be early enough to allow for the smooth hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly in Victoria Falls in August.

The UNWTO is Zimbabwe's biggest opportunity to rebrand itself as a major tourist and investment destination since the formation of the inclusive government in 2009 after a decade-long socio-economic crisis which saw foreign tourist arrivals dry up and the economy virtually collapsing.

Speaking after the closed door meeting with Tsvangirai yesterday, which lasted more than an hour, Mzembi said the premier -- head of government business and in charge of implementation of projects under the government works programme -- agreed the country should go for elections well before the general assembly meeting.

This would mean the country going for polls before reforms outlined in the Global Political Agreement are implemented.

"With the prime minister we concluded that if elections were held before the general assembly, the event will then present a unique branding opportunity for any post-election government," said Mzembi.

Mzembi also expressed concern over Treasury's delay in releasing US$12 million meant for the general assembly preparations indicating he had raised the issue with the premier.

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