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Tea for Two – Time to Mend Fences over a Cuppa

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Written by Nell Alcantara

Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe having tea with His Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? 

His Excellency Walter Mzembi, minister of tourism for Zimbabwe recently gave an interview with Telegraph Travel in the Zimbabwe embassy in London.

“The UK and Zimbabwe are so much in love with each other. There has been some kind of love-hate relationship born out of what is essentially a family feud,” Mzembi told the Telegraph.

Notwithstanding the acerbic rhetoric which has flown backward and forward between London and Harare over the past 15 years or so, that venom from Harare has never targeted Her Majesty nor indeed any member of the Royal Family.

Her Majesty has continued to extend warm greetings on each anniversary of independence to Zimbabwe. And when Tony Blair ran away from sitting next to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe during the funeral of Pope John Paul II, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales remained in his seat, alongside Mugabe and engaged the Zimbabwe strongman in conversation.

“I have a proposal for Her Majesty The Queen and our President Robert Mugabe to sit down together and have a cup of tea.”

Robert Mugabe is the oldest statesmen in the world, born on February 21, 1924. Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926 and is the longest serving monarch in the world.

Relations between the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe have been strained for some time, with Britain’s concern about corruption and human rights abuse in Zimbabwe.

Mzembi continued to say “I dream big, and I don’t think I dream impractical. Nothing is impossible.” Despite sanctions Britain is Zimbabwe’s largest European holiday market. Brits love the natural wonders of this Southern African country, the Victoria Falls named after Queen Victoria and national parks the size of Wales. “It will be unfair to deprive the peoples of the two countries the opportunity to keep connected due to differences of our political administrations”, said Mzembi.

Currently, to get from London to Zimbabwe travelers have to fly via Ethiopia or South Africa. Zimbabwe’s Minister is keen to see a return of direct air links between the two countries.

Zimbabwe has a 34-year-old clean bill of travel security record where no tourist has ever been harmed due to conflict. Zimbabwe is a safe country to travel to, and according to Mzembi. According to the minister, safety is a major selling point for Zimbabwe tourism.

Zimbabwe has been and continues to be a destination of peace and stability.

“Our biodiversity has been kept largely authentic, original and undisturbed with very sound conservation models that have become models for the region.” This all despite park authorities in Zimbabwe having to sell off wild animals to save them from a drought, a pan African problem of course, and in the case of Zimbabwe, the elephant population has ballooned from the current carrying capacity of 80 000 to over 150 000.

Dr. Mzembi continues to dream big in pushing for Zimbabwe to host the World Cub in 2034, using adjustable and relocatable stadia structures adapted from Qatar after the conclusion of the 2022 World Cup.

Walter Mzembi view is way beyond local – it’s global. When he said: “My dream for the World Cub is based on integration of the strength and effort that are neighbors to Zimbabwe, such as South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia. We can launch a joing bid.”

Dr. Mzembi’s multi-national approach to tourism is not new. It was largely his initiative and drive which brought the 20th UNWTO General Assembly to be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in Victoria Falls in August 2013.

His dream remains high but in no way impossible.

Dr. Mzembi is a candidate in the election to the highest post in global tourism, the upcoming United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) election of its Secretary General. He remains a top contender for the post.

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