Zambia prays for peaceful Zim election

LIVINGSTONE - Zambian Tourism and Arts minister Silvia Matsebo says the Zimbabwean government must ensure elections are peaceful to avoid disturbing the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) assembly set for August this year.

Zimbabwe and Zambia are co-hosting the global event.

He was speaking to journalists in Zambia’s Livingstone town during a joint initiative to promote tourism and wildlife conservation organised by the two United States embassies of Zimbabwe and Zambia ahead of the UNWTO general assembly.

Matsebo said Zimbabwean authorities must make sure there is no violence during the run-up to elections for the event to be successful.

“An election is a programme for the country, the UNWTO is a programme for the United Nations and it should be allowed to go ahead without any hindrance.

“We don’t expect the elections to disturb UNTWO general assembly,” she said.

“We expect parties in the unity government to be committed and support the event.

“Obviously elections will disturb the event and as Zambians we are praying that Zimbabwe elections will be very peaceful,” said Matsebo.

Speaking at the same event, US ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton said Zimbabwe should have free and fair elections for the benefit of the region.

“When there is political instability in the country, it is very difficult for the tourism industry and it will chase away tourists to other destinations,” Wharton said.

He said Zimbabwe’s security commanders who have been making political statements must remain neutral.
Wharton and his Zambian counterpart Mark Storella cycled from Victoria Falls to Livingstone in the company of Miss US Nima Meriwether.

Zimbabwe’s last election in 2008 was soaked in blood, with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai claiming that over 200 of his supporters died after the military took over President Robert Mugabe’s re-election campaign.

The presidential election was disputed, resulting in the African Union and Sadc forcing Mugabe to accept the formation of a coalition government with Tsvangirai.

The country is expected to hold elections this year to end the shaky four-year-old coalition and civil society groups say evidence on the ground point to renewed hostilities between supporters of different parties in many communities around the country. - Pindai Dube in Zambia

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