By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
8 May 2014
A European tourism award that has been described as ‘dubious’ and lacking in credibility, is now being used by ZANU PF as an endorsement by Europe of its leadership.
The Bucharest based European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT) announced this week that it was presenting Zimbabwe with the award of ‘Best Tourism Destination for 2014’, in a press release that strongly praised ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe.
The Council, which claims on its website to be made up of 27 European Union (EU) tourism organisations, said it would be presenting the award to Robert Mugabe in Harare, describing him as “the most outstanding personality of today Africa.”
ZANU PF’s Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi has since said that the award justifies its efforts in pushing for the removal of the EU targeted sanctions, which now only remain against Mugabe and his wife Grace.
“When you are endorsed from Europe, you are being endorsed by those who placed us on sanctions and this shows that we have successfully succeeded in the negotiations,” Mzembi said.
But questions about the credible nature of the award and the Council itself have been raised, with some observers stating that the Council is not affiliated to the EU leadership bloc.
Former Zimbabwean diplomat Clifford Mashiri told SW Radio Africa that the award is “highly dubious.”
“The credibility of this is questionable, especially since the host of the awarding body has strong links with the regime in Harare,” Mashiri said.
Mashiri also questioned the role ZANU PF might have played in Zimbabwe being chosen for the award, with the party trying to prove its legitimacy.
“There is every reason for ZANU PF trying to gain legitimacy by the back door, considering they are not a legitimate government,” he said.