Lifestyle & Belief

Mugabe asked to be UN 'tourism leader'


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe delivers a speech at a rally to mark the country's 32nd independence anniversary on April 18, 2012 in Harare. Mugabe urged Zimbabweans to shun violence ahead of elections that he insists be held this year.


Jekesai Njikizana

Never mind that he is subject to a travel ban: the UN has asked Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to become an international envoy for tourism, according to a report.

Mugabe was honored as a "leader for tourism" by the UN's World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on Tuesday, the Guardian reported.

According to the state-run Herald newspaper, Mugabe, along with Zambian President Michael Sata, signed an agreement with the UNWTO at their country's shared border at Victoria Falls.

"Improbable as it seems, the Zimbabwean president, who is widely accused of ethnic cleansing, rigging elections, terrorizing opposition, controlling media and presiding over a collapsed economy, has been endorsed as a champion of efforts to boost global holidaymaking," the Guardian said.

The Guardian story noted that the UN's collection of ambassadors also includes Drew Barrymore, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom and Ricky Martin.

More from GlobalPost: Zimbabwe: Mugabe says he is tired

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, and has already been endorsed by his Zanu-PF party to stand as a candidate in elections expected later this year or in early 2013.

He recently said that while he "is tired and wants to retire," he is staying in power to prevent Zanu-PF from falling apart, according to a Zimbabwean newspaper report.

Mugabe last week met with Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights who was on a five-day tour of Zimbabwe to assess the human rights situation. 

Political violence in Zimbabwe has flared in the run-up to elections, former opposition leader turned Mugabe coalition partner Morgan Tsvangirai said recently.

More from GlobalPost: Rumors fly that Mugabe is on deathbed