PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday showered praises on Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi, describing him as one of his best ministers.
The 90-year-old leader rarely speaks about the qualities of his ministers in public leading to a lot of speculation each time he has to reshuffle his Cabinet.
But yesterday Mugabe gave as much as he got from Mzembi in praise singing as he received the controversial 2014 Best Tourism Destination Award by the European Tourism and Trade Council (ETTC) in Harare.
Mugabe said Mzembi was doing an outstanding job in marketing Zimbabwe.
"I want to pay tribute to this young man they call minister Mzembi, now the only surviving Tourism minister in Africa or in the world, so he says. He knows how much he still has, (as minister). I assure him, I rate him as one of my best ministers. I never say this to my ministers, but he is forthright, full of brilliant ideas that he never keeps in his mind," he gushed.
Mugabe said the Masvingo South legislator had taken steps to ensure Zimbabwe was recognised internationally.
Zimbabwe's only ruler since independence said he doubted his fellow countrymen knew much about their own country and wanted Mzembi to do his bit to educate them.
"There are times when I tend to think that Zimbabweans do not really know their country and its intrinsic value and worth, besides, of course, its mineral endowments, such as gold and diamonds, which everyone knows about," Mugabe said.
He said there was need for the Tourism ministry to introduce the "know your Zimbabwe" campaign to facilitate visits to the country's notable landmarks.
Mzembi was the first to shower Mugabe with praises, saying he was one of the many people "milking" from the veteran leader's wisdom.
He described Mugabe as a pillar that symbolised the people adding that it was a favour to serve under him.
In introducing Mugabe, Mzembi said he was like John the Baptist introducing Jesus Christ whose shoes he was unfit to untie. Zimbabwe was awarded two awards by the ETTC, a private Bucharest, Romania-based organisation with interest in tourism.
It brings together tourism-related organisations from 27 European countries and not affiliated to the European Union.
ETTC president Professor Anton Caragea spoke glowingly of Zimbabwe and Mugabe saying the country was one of the safest places to be for international tourist.