Michael Ross: Robert Mugabe named ‘international tourism ambassador’ in latest UN absurdity
Michael Ross May 28, 2012 – 8:34 AM ET | Last Updated: May 28, 2012 8:46 AM ET
TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images
TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images
Zimbabawe's President Robert Mugabe catches some shut-eye at the inauguration of a new $200-million African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, built and donated by China.
For cognitive dissonance, see under: The United Nations. It’s no longer just a platform for countries with less-than-negligible human rights records to bash Israel and other democratic nations, or the dispatcher of envoys like Kofi Annan to Syria (under whose watch some 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered) or the patronizing professional busy-body Olivier De Schutter, a Belgian “UN special rapporteur on the right to food,” to lecture Canada. The UN is now an expert on tourism to Africa and deciding who is best suited to promote it.
The UN just announced that its favourite African megalomaniac, Robert Mugabe, and his Zambian sidekick, Michael Sata, have been appointed United Nations international tourism ambassadors in recognition of the promotion and development of tourism. The UN through the United Nations World Tourism Organisation will officially confer the status to the two presidents at a function to be held in Victoria Falls this week and officiated by the UNWTO secretary general Mr Talib Rifai. The honour comes even though the European Union and U.S. have imposed travel bans on Mugabe and many of his senior government officials due to widespread human rights abuses.
Much attention has been paid to the plight of Zimbabwe’s terrorized mostly Anglo farmers whose fields were seized under President Mugabe’s ill-conceived and disastrous land appropriation program. But the abject ruination the Mugabe regime has wrought on the small landlocked country has affected all of its citizens regardless of race or tribal affiliation. Mugabe’s fight to convert white-minority-ruled Rhodesia into the modern African state of Zimbabwe was once considered a noble cause but under his despotic rule, Zimbabwe’s decline has been absolute and has effectively turned this relatively wealthy functioning model of black-white co-existence into an impoverished country that now has one of the lowest life expectancy rates and one of the worst HIV/AIDS infection rates in the world.
Some 3,500 people die per week in Zimbabwe due to HIV/AIDS alone. Tag on the random muggings, violence, and property crime in a country with an unemployment rate hovering at around 80 per cent, and what remains of Zimbabwe’s populace is very beleaguered. One of the best measurements for determining that a country has in fact hit rock bottom is the appearance of cholera. When a state can no longer separate its potable water from raw sewage, then any sense of concern for the general welfare of the citizenry by the government is non-existent. Over several visits I made to Zimbabwe some years ago, I watched the economy and quality of life deteriorate before my very eyes. The country once touted as the bread-basket of Africa and a showcase of interracial harmony and prosperity has become a living hell on earth.
So the question that needs to be asked of the bureaucrats enjoying the tax-free scenery from the UN’s headquarters on Turtle Bay, is how does a destroyer of nations like Mugabe become a tourism ambassador? I just hope the tourists read the fine print when they book their next trip to Zimbabwe. I also wonder if they know that the country has now been listed as “very high” with respect to major infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, malaria, schistosomiasis, and rabies just to name but a few?
Suddenly, Mexico isn’t looking so bad after all.
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