The Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa, the tourism marketing, promotion and development arm of Sadc is teetering on the brink of collapse as some member states sharply disagree with the big brother mentality of South Africa in particular.This writer has it on record that on November 29 2013 Sadc ministers in charge of tourism met in Maputo, Mozambique where South Africa supported by Mozambique proposed the collapsing of Retosa, which they feel is blocking them from abusing their big brother status in the region.
How Mozambique joined South Africa, still remains a mystery. On the other hand Zimbabwe, supported by Angola and Namibia viciously fought against the disbanding of Retosa, which they feel, is critical not only fair commercial tourism promotion, marketing and development but equally for regional integration.
The rest of the Sadc countries adopted a between the road attitude and appointed Zambia to chair a committee to come up with an informed recommendation to either disband or continue with Retosa, by February next year.
South Africa, has been unethically marketing Victoria Falls as if it was in its country and cashing in on revenue that should go to Zambia and Zimbabwe and is unfazed by Retosa’s call for commercially fair and ethical marketing practice, aimed at giving regional member states equal and fair opportunity.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Engineer Walter Mzembi, yesterday confirmed chairing a heated meeting of Ministers in Maputo and that Zambia was now chairing a committee that will decide the future of Retosa.
“You must be having very close sources in Retosa because this was a very closed meeting of Ministers. Yes, I chaired a very hot meeting and yes, South Africa and Angola favour the collapsing of Retosa for their own reasons while Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola believe collapsing Retosa will have disastrous consequences in the region.
“Besides, Retosa was established in 2006 with the appending of signatures by Sadc head of state and Government and cannot simply be collapsed by Ministers. That is very technical. The disagreements are based on the strategic and they relate more to the structure of governance than anything else.
“My take as the person chairing was that by collapsing Retosa it is an admission on our part that we have failed to run this organisation.
“The meeting finally, agreed to give Zambia the chairmanship of a committee to investigate this issue and come up with recommendations.
In the committee shall be Malawi as Sadc chair, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa and the result will be known in February,’’ said Minister Mzembi.
Over the years, there has been a problem with South Africa, thinking as if it is not in Africa and taking advantage of it being the host of Retosa Headquarters.
However, there is a growing new thinking that southern Africa, outside South Africa can easily host Retosa. The other major problem has been the fact that South Africa belongs to other powerful international groups like the BRICS, which it is using to leverage its position in the region, hence its big brother attitude.
“South Africa is drinking tea with Uncle Sam and really enjoying it,’’ said a source.