By Gilbert Nyambabvu
TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi has insisted that he is not running away from the political chaos in Zimbabwe even as he dismissed as misconceived the Zanu PF row over President Robert Mugabe’s succession.
Indicating that he was only 53, Mzembi said he has chosen to succeed the world; to test himself in a “global classroom” after which he expects to be better prepared for “any eventuality in the future”.
The minister – once described by Mugabe as his best cabinet performer – was in London at the weekend where he, among other things, addressed a two-day Zimbabwe Strategy Marketing Indaba organised by Prof Earnest Kadembo.
Opening up on the succession debate, Mzembi said he and others in the ruling party had chosen to keep well away from the rumpus because it was myopically obsessing about individuals rather than ideas.
President Mugabe turned 93 last month; he has since been endorsed as the Zanu PF party’s candidate for elections due next year.
The veteran leader has ruled out retirement, claiming he does not see a competent successor among his top lieutenants but the ruling party remains at war over the issue.
One faction backs vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa while a rival grouping is determined to stop him; the latter faction reportedly coalesces around President Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
The fight has become so fascial that even the simple matter of the country’s agricultural harvest is turned into grist for succession quarrelling.
Mzembi said the debate should not be about individuals but a contestation of ideas about how to make Zimbabwe a country of opportunity for its young and comfort for its old.
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Responding to questions after his address, the minister also criticized the country’s fiscal policies, the failure to enforce productive use of the land, innumerate road blocks on the roads and their impact on tourism.
He happens to be contesting elections to become the next secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, meaning Mugabe could lose his best cabinet pick.
The minister however, rejected suggestions that he was trying to leave due to frustration with the succession chaos and government’s policy missteps.
Mzembi said he wanted to test himself in a “global classroom”, adding that, should he succeed, he would also be representing Zimbabwe on the global stage.
But in remarks that possibly hinted on future intentions, the minister said the “global classroom” would better prepare him for any future eventualities.