Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The UN through the United Nations World Tourism Organisation will officially confer the status to the two presidents at a function to be held in Victoria Falls this week and officiated by the UNWTO Secretary General Mr Talib Rifai. The honour comes even though the European Union and the United States have imposed travel bans on Mugabe and many of his senior government officials due to widespread human rights abuses.
Much attention has been paid to the plight of Zimbabwe’s terrorized mostly Anglo farmers whose fields were seized under President Mugabe’s ill-conceived and disastrous land appropriation program. But the abject ruination the Mugabe regime has wrought on the small landlocked country has affected all of its citizens regardless of race or tribal affiliation. Mugabe’s fight to convert white-minority-ruled Rhodesia into the modern African state of Zimbabwe was once considered a noble cause but under his despotic rule, Zimbabwe’s decline has been absolute and has effectively turned this relatively wealthy functioning model of black-white co-existence into an impoverished country that now has one of the lowest life expectancy rates and one of the worst HIV/AIDS infection rates in the world.
Some 3,500 people die per week in Zimbabwe due to HIV/AIDS alone. Tag on the random muggings, violence, and property crime in a country with an unemployment rate hovering at around 80 per cent, and what remains of Zimbabwe’s populace is very beleaguered. One of the best measurements for determining that a country has in fact hit rock bottom is the appearance of cholera. When a state can no longer separate its potable water from raw sewage, then any sense of concern for the general welfare of the citizenry by the government is non-existent. The country once touted as the bread-basket of Africa and a showcase of interracial harmony and prosperity has become a living hell on earth.
So the question that needs to be asked of the bureaucrats enjoying the tax-free scenery from the UN’s headquarters on Turtle Bay, is how does a destroyer of nations like Mugabe become a tourism ambassador? I just hope the tourists read the fine print when they book their next trip to Zimbabwe. I also wonder if they know that the country has now been listed as “very high” with respect to major infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, malaria, schistosomiasis, and rabies just to name but a few?
And you wouldn't want to plan on flying Air Zimbabwe. It's stopped functioning.
Tourism Mecca not.