Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Zimbabwe President in South Africa for World Economic Forum On Africa
President Mugabe arrived here yesterday for the 27th edition of the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA), which begins today.

He was seen off at Harare International Airport by Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Cabinet Ministers, service chiefs and senior civil servants.

VP Mphoko is Acting President.

Ministers Patrick Chinamasa (Finance and Economic Development), Mike Bimha (Industry and Commerce), Obert Mpofu (Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion) and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Foreign Affairs) are accompanying the President.

President Mugabe will join host President Jacob Zuma and fellow African leaders President Edgar Lungu (Zambia); Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique), Macky Sall (Senegal), Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (Mauritius), and King Mswati III of Swaziland at the economic forum.

The three-day event -- running under the theme "Achieving Inclusive Growth through Responsive and Responsible Leadership" -- will convene more than 1 000 delegates from 100 countries around the world.

According to the World Economic Forum, the meeting "aims to move leaders to change the way they approach development planning by designing policies that allow everyone to benefit from economic growth".

Benefits of economic growth, WEF believes, are disproportionately distributed around the world.

Oxfam International, whose executive director Winnie Byanyima is also co-chair of WEFA, claimed in a report titled: "An economy for the 99 percent", published on January 16 this year, that eight of the world's richest men own the same wealth as the 3,6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.

The world, it claimed, could see its first trillionaire in the next 25 years.

The federation of more than 20 international non-governmental organisations blames big businesses and the super-rich for fuelling inequalities in wealth by evading and avoiding taxes, including paying unfair wages. Organisers of WEFA say policy makers will explore how the African continent has to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution -- a phenomenon where technology is materially changing the way human being relate across the globe.

Some of the topical issues that will come under the spotlight include Africa's large infrastructure gap, the digital divide, improving healthcare, financial inclusion, which is designed to help promote financial services to the general population, and promoting intra-regional trade.

Trade within the continent at 13 percent remains relatively low compared to Europe, North America and Asia, where it currently stands at 60 percent, 40 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

Since the turn of the millennium, Zimbabwe has made giant strides in empowering locals through redistributing 12 million hectares of land -- considered by economists as the primary source of production -- from 3 500 white minority farmers to 276 000 households.

Notably, beneficiaries included vulnerable and previously disadvantaged groups such as women, youth and war veterans.

Over the past 17 years, Zimbabwe has been challenging exploitative neo-liberal economic policies that favour multinational companies and minority groups. And it is this principal stand that has attracted sanctions from the European Union bloc and the United States of America.

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