Daily Archives: July 17, 2016

Zimbabwe: African Union Endorses Walter Mzembi For UNWTO Secretary General Post

Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwean Tourism Minister and Hospitality Industry has been endorsed as Africa’s sole candidacy by the African Union [AU] to become the next Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO].

The endorsement was made at the on-going 27th Summit of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda for which UNWTO election process will start in October 2016.

The Executive Council consists of mostly Foreign Ministers from African countries except Morocco that only re-applied for membership.

Mzembi has been on the road lobbying to get endorsement after endorsement from world leaders, global tourism organizations, and now from the African Union to lead world tourism in the United Nations system.

Tourism is the largest job generator in the world and one in every 10 world’s work force is employed directly or indirectly in the travel and tourism industry.

Walter Mzembi, Ph.D, has been Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry in Zimbabwe since 2009 and a Member of Parliament for the Masvingo South Constituency since 2004 as well as United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO] Regional Commission for Africa Chairperson from 2013 to date.

This industry, however, is facing enormous challenges in regards to global security. It will take a special type of leader for this post.

Mzembi is known to bring fresh and sometimes out-of-the-box ideas to the table and may just be the man for this job. Some had told him that he is fit for the job, but may be the minister representing the wrong country.

The world platform is changing fast, and after all, this may very well play to his strategic advantage over time. Africa is now being taken seriously in the world, and the minister’s approval is an endorsement not only for him but for an Africa that has learned and now knows how to speak with one powerful voice.

Mzembi’s experience in the world of tourism includes such international positions as Chairman of the Southern Africa Development Community Committee of Tourism Ministers in 2015, UNWTO Executive Council Member from 2009 to 2013, UNWTO Co-President in Session 20 of the General Assembly from 2013-2015, as well as President of the Africa Travel Association [New York-based] 3 times.

Just last week, he was recognized as a Tourism Leader by the International Coalition of Tourism Partners [ICTP] and has received several industry awards across the world.

Ronald Mracky, Managing Director, Africa Consult Group in the United States was one of the first international players to congratulate Mzembi. He said, “Personal good wishes and congratulations from Sylvia and me on your African Union achievement of becoming Africa’s unchallenged choice for the UNWTO Secretary General.

“In our private and professional positions, we endorse the AU decision and be assured of our support in obtaining the needed world support for you and Africa within the worldwide tourism community”.

“You have the qualifications to lead UNWTO and assist today’s world in utilising tourism as a force for peace, good and economic progress.

“Please accept our sincere congratulations” Mracky reiterated.

Mracky was a senior member of the Africa Travel Association [ATA], Pacific Asia Travel Association [PATA], International Air Transport Association [IATA], associate member of American Society of Travel Agents [ASTA], and other professional and academic groups.

Mzembi has been Zimbabwe minister of tourism and hospitality industry for 9 years; also the world’s third longest serving tourism ministers behind Azerbaijani tourism minister that has stayed for 23 years and his Cuban counterpart who has been in office for 18 years.

More Trouble For Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel, Lagos

Few months after causing the death of a Nigerian lawyer when the management of Southern Sun Hotel, Lagos dragged two of its workers to court over missing N28,000.00 meat and snail, the hotel majorly owned by South Africa Tsogo International, is once again to be dragged before a Nigerian court.

This time, the National Union of Hotels and Personal Services Workers [NUHPSW], Southern Sun Hotel branch that some of its executive members were sacked for belonging to union by the management are poised to drag the hotel to court.

According to a document made available to African Travel Times magazine by some of the affected members, the Union had petitioned the Assistant inspector General of Police [AIG] Zone 2, Onikan, Lagos on February 29, 2016 over what they said was high level of injustice, slavery, maltreatment, emblements, fraud, victimization, intimidation, harassment, molestation, oppressive policies among others, by the management of the hotel against the workers with full support of few Nigerian management staff.

The four page petition chronicles several happenings within the hotel, of which were fragrant breach of Nigeria Labour laws and short of international standard.

The document alleged that since 2013, that 75 per cent of the company’s shares was sold by Ikoyi Hotels Limited to Tsogo Sun Hotels Holdings, a South Africa based hotel group, information made public has it that all the workers were paid off during the transfer of ownership, but till now, none of the employees has been paid a dime and that in order for the owners to divert the monies, workers were being laid off systematically.

The union in same petition noted that as a recognised and responsible trade union organisation, “We have exhausted all internal and external measures in making sure that there is a balance, and harmonious industrial relations between the union and management”, the union wrote.

The union wrote further that the aforementioned efforts have yielded no desired result due to the hotel management’s high handedness and draconian style of leadership.

Investigations by African Travel Times Magazine revealed that workers’ complaints are met with serious intimidation and administrative brutality in connivance with the few privileged Nigerian management staff.

One of such incident that comes to mind was the recent unbelievable drama that played out at Southern Sun Hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos, which many said was nothing but administrative recklessness when two of the hotel staff where charged to court over allegation of missing meat and snail.

The two staff, Okedairo Okedeji, 38 and Akolade Agbola 28 were arraigned on February 29, for the crime the hotel alleged they committed on November 11, 2015.

While many that read the story were not angry for the action, the hotel management resorted going to court over N28.000.00 worth of meat and snail, they were however, of the opinion that such could have been handled internally.

To add salt into injury, a lawyer simply identified as Chidi slumped and died within the premises of the Igbosere Magistrates’ Court in Lagos Island, on Tuesday 8, March 2016, while representing the accused persons.

Ame Ameachi, the Vice Chairman of NUHPSW of Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel that was affected by the unlawful dismissal, told African Travel Times Magazine that not even the personal intervention of the Divisional Police Officer [DPO] Ikoyi Station, had any bearing on the management as they continued with their impunity.

Also shocking was the look-warm altitude of the NUHPSW Lagos State Chapter Chairman, who also doubles as NUHPSW Eko Hotel and Suites, Chairman which Ameachi said was disservices to unionism and labour matters.

The National Headquarters of the Nigerian Labour Congress [NLC], was also accused of collecting cash from this disengaged staff with the promise of mobilising through its Principal General Secretary, which they never turned up.

Not even a letter from Femi Falana, a prominent Lagos based lawyer after parting with a N100.000.00 to Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel changed anything, as the hotel lawyer wrote back, giving no reason for their sack, but saying the terms of the employment was dully followed by the management.

On the way forward, Falana’s Chambers has requested the sum of N1 million from the jobless 21 former workers of Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel for them to be able to drag the hotel to court.

Without doubt, Ameachi and his friends sure need help from all Nigerians even if the system fails them.