At a brief ceremony held at the Madrid Headquarters of the United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO] at 2000 last Saturday, 4 March 2017, Dr. Walter Mzembi, the African Union-endorsed candidate for the post of Secretary General of the UNWTO, filed his official nomination papers with the incumbent Secretary General, Dr. Taleb Rifai.
Although the deadline for the deposit of the papers is midnight on 11 March 2017, Dr. Mzembi decided to detour through Madrid at the beginning of his current campaign outreach programme, to lodge the requisite documentation directly with the Secretary General a week before the agreed deadline.
Witnessing the occasion was Dr. Mzembi’s wife, Mrs. Barbara Perez Hernandez; the wife of the incumbent Secretary General, Mrs. Rifai, the UNWTO Legal Counsel; Ms. Elcia de Grandcourt, UNWTO Regional Director for Africa; and members of Dr. Mzembi’s campaign team.
The documentation submitted by Dr. Mzembi included an official nomination letter signed by His Excellency President R.G. Mugabe, a 2-page curriculum vitae, a-6-page Statement of Policy and Management Intent, and a Certification of Sound Health.
The core document of the submission is the 6-page Statement of Policy and Management, which basically sets out the vision Dr. Mzembi, as Secretary General, has for the future development of global tourism under the umbrella of the UNWTO.
That vision is all-encompassing in nature, reflects Dr. Mzembi’s ambitious 10-Point Plan for the reform and renewal of the organization, and provides a clear road-map signposting how he intends to attain the targets articulated in that plan.
Key elements of his reform agenda, as highlighted in his Statement of Policy and Management Intent, include:
• Administrative and Governance Reform of the Organization,
• Responsible Tourism and Sustainability,
• Resource Mobilization and Business Development, and
• Organizational Repositioning and Brand Development.
In receiving the official nomination documentation, Secretary General Rifai thanked Dr. Mzembi for making the effort to personally deposit the requisite paperwork, congratulated him on his impressive campaign effort to date, and wished him well in the forthcoming election.
The election of a new Secretary General will take place during the course of the forthcoming 105th meeting of the UNWTO Executive Council which is scheduled to be held in Madrid, Spain, from 11 to 12 May 2017.
To date, in addition to Dr. Mzembi, there are 4 other candidates who have officially declared their candidature for the Secretary General post.
They are Mrs. Doh Young-shim of the Republic of (South) Korea, Ambassador Gurab Poloshikavili of the Republic of Georgia, Mr. Marcio Favilla Luca de Paula of Brazil, and Mr. Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles.
The election will be conducted by secret ballot. To win, a candidate requires a 50%-plus-1 tally from the Executive Council members present and voting. If all 33 members of the Executive Council are present and voting, this means that a candidate needs to secure a minimum of 17 votes in order to win the election.
Emerging from the election, therefore, will be a Secretary-General-elect. The Chairperson of the Executive Council will then submit the name of the winning candidate – the Secretary-General elect – for endorsement by the next UNWTO General Assembly which is scheduled to take place in Chengdu, China, in September 2017. That endorsement requires a two-thirds majority of the UNWTO members present and voting.
The new Secretary General will take up the post on 1 January 2018 and will serve a 4-year mandate until 31 December 2021. That mandate is renewable once, for a further 4-year period.
Following the submission of his nomination documentation, Dr. Mzembi left Madrid for Ghana where, as part of His Excellency President Mugabe’s entourage, he attended the 60th Anniversary Celebrations of Ghanaian independence.
Dr. Mzembi held a bilateral meeting with his Ghanaian counterpart, Hon. Catherine Afeku – Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Creative Arts – to discuss the strengthening of cooperation in the field of tourism between the two countries on the basis of an MoU which, they agreed, should be finalized as soon as possible.