Tuesday, September 19, 2006

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe Attends United Nations General Assembly in New York

President in New York for UN General Assembly

From Itai Musengeyi at the UNITED NATIONS in New York

PRESIDENT Mugabe is now in New York City to attend the 61st United Nations General Assembly, which opens at the world body’s headquarters today.

The UN Headquarters site is officially international territory, not part of the United States.

Cde Mugabe and his delegation arrived here on Sunday and were met at John F. Kennedy International Airport by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the US Mr Machivenyika Mapuranga and officials from Zimbabwe’s Mission to the UN in New York.

The President is among nearly 90 leaders expected to address the General Assembly.

The Zimbabwean delegation flew into New York from Havana, Cuba, where it attended the 14th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit and the 13th Group of 15 (G15) Summit. G15, which has since expanded to 17 but retained its name, comprises developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America

The President is being accompanied by the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and other senior Government officials.

Zimbabwe’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku, and the Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mr Chitsaka Chipaziwa, were also in Cuba for the NAM and G15 summits. Ambassador Chidyausiku handles NAM issues while Ambassador Chipaziwa deals with the G15 which seeks to promote co-operation between member-states and bodies such as the WTO, which develops ground rules for international commerce and mediates in trade disputes through, among other measures, regulating tariffs.

The NAM summit expressed disappointment at the outcome of the 2005 UN World Summit, saying it did not take into account the concerns and interests of developing countries — especially on development, official development assistance and trade.

However, the leaders said in spite of failing to thrash out these issues, the 2005 World Summit served as a basis to move forward the process of strengthening the UN to meet existing and emerging threats to economic and social development, peace and security and human rights.

The NAM summit said the UN reform must be transparent and inclusive.

"The voice of every member state must be heard and respected during the reform process irrespective of the contributions made to the budget of the organisation," the leaders said in their declaration.

NAM also bemoaned the disappearance of multilateralism, which has been replaced by unilateralism.

The nearly 90 leaders, dozens of foreign ministers and diplomats expected to attend the 61st General Assembly session will focus on the UN’s unfinished reforms, including the highly contentious issue of expanding the Security Council, the world body’s most powerful organ by virtue of the fact that it has the mandate to make decisions which other member governments must carry out under the UN Charter unlike other organs of the organisation which can only make recommendations. This makes its veto-wielding five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — inordinately potent and influential.

Iran’s nuclear programme will also feature prominently in discussions.

The session comes at a time the UN has secured a ceasefire in Lebanon, is endeavouring to revive the Middle East peace process and pressing Sudan to allow its peacekeepers into the war-torn Darfur region of the country.

At last year’s World Summit, UN Secretary General Mr Kofi Annan urged global leaders to respond to mounting criticism of the organisation and restore its credibility by adopting broad reforms needed for nations to act together to tackle poverty, terrorism and conflict.

Meanwhile, Vice President Joice Mujuru is the Acting President in the absence of President Mugabe.

In a statement yesterday, Information and Publicity principal Press secretary Mr Regis Chikowore said Cde Mujuru would be Acting President beginning yesterday.

Opinion & Analysis

UN reforms: Will Africa prevail?

By Innocent Gore

AFRICAN leaders — among them President Mugabe — join other world leaders at the 61st Ordinary Session of the United Nations General Assembly this week, but the world will be watching whether Africa’s request to have two permanent seats and two non-permanent seats on an expanded Security Council will be acceptable to the five permanent members of the council.

The world will be watching whether Africa will table its resolution at the General Assembly session which begins this week, or will wait for a special session of the General Assembly scheduled for next March.

The African Union has been haggling over the past year on the reform of the UN Security Council.

Outgoing UN secretary-general Mr Kofi Annan, himself an African from Ghana, has proposed widespread reforms of the world body, including the reform of the powerful Security Council.

Observers say Africa should have taken advantage of the fact that Mr Annan is from the continent, and should therefore be sympathetic to Africa’s cause, to push for its position. They see a missed opportunity in that this General Assembly is Mr Annan’s last as his term of office is coming to an end.

Africa is pushing for meaningful and wide-ranging reforms of the UN Security Council, as opposed to cosmetic changes which would perpetuate the continent’s current position on the fringes of decision-making.

The continent wants the Security Council expanded to 26 seats, with six new permanent veto-wielding seats, two of which would be reserved for Africa, and five new non-permanent seats, two of which would also go to Africa.

Africa does not wish for the veto, but should demand it if other permanent members retain it. African leaders have adhered to this position at AU summits and extraordinary summits at Sirte, Libya, in July 2005, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (August and November 2005) and Khartoum, Sudan (January 2006).

The issue was supposed to have been debated and exhausted at the AU Summit in Banjul, Gambia, in July this year, but it did not feature prominently as the High Level Committee of 10 heads of state and government set up at the Sirte summit had not yet finished preparing its report and did therefore not report its findings to the summit.

The committee of 10 is chaired by Sierra Leone President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and comprises leaders (or their representatives) of Senegal (Sierra Leone and Senegal represent West Africa), Libya and Algeria from North Africa, Kenya and Uganda from East Africa, Zambia and Namibia from Southern Africa, and Equatorial Guinea and Congo Republic from Central Africa.

The committee’s mandate was to sell Africa’s position to the leaders of the five permanent members of the Security Council — namely Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

But there are fears that the committee has not done enough as African leaders join other world leaders to debate world affairs, including pressing issues on the continent, in New York this week.

There are also fears that African leaders might not go to the General Assembly with a united voice.

Already there are signs that some countries want to get into the Security Council at whatever cost, with or without the backing of the rest of the continent and with or without the veto.

Other leaders are of the view that Africa’s position should be tabled and debated at the General Assembly without any further delay and even without seeking support from the current permanent members. They argue that Africa risks losing out if it delays tabling its resolution at the General Assembly.

However, others are of the view that the resolution on Africa’s position should not be tabled in haste because if it fails, then the continent’s position would have been weakened.

Yet others argue that Africa must not negotiate for the two permanent seats with veto power and two non-permanent seats on an expanded Security Council, but must demand this as a right.

Africa, they argue, has suffered enough under slavery, colonialism, apartheid and the time has now come for the injustices to be atoned for through granting the continent its demands on the Security Council.

But despite all this, some African countries were said to be backtracking ahead of the General Assembly meeting and have endorsed a proposal by Brazil, Germany, Japan and India — the so-called Group of Four — to have six new permanent seats without veto power. These would be one each for the Group of Four and two for Africa, plus four other non-permanent seats.

For Africa, that would mean two permanent seats, one non-permanent seat and sharing another non-permanent seat with other developing regions.

Supposing the resolution on Africa’s position is adopted, the next battle will be on who will represent the continent in the expanded Security Council. South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Kenya, Libya, Algeria and Congo Republic are some of the countries that have been named as contenders for the Security Council seats reserved for Africa.

The front runners were thought to be South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. But questions have arisen as to whether Nigeria will be able to represent the continent’s interests in view of the way it handled the Charles Taylor issue.

For now, it remains to be seen whether the continent’s resolution will be tabled at the General Assembly, which begins this week, and whether this will prevail.

But one thing is certain: the developing world is certainly fed up with the unipolarism and the dominance of world affairs by the United States.

We will never be fooled

Mwana Wevhu

EDITOR — We are now sick and tired of pseudo-organisations that claim to be championing human rights while advancing the agenda of their sponsors.

I could not believe the naivety of one such organisation, the Coalition of Black Trade Unions based in the United States, that was quoted in The Saturday Herald story — "Break Zimbabwe stronghold" — saying it does not want people to think of President Mugabe as a liberation icon.

For lack of a better example, that is akin to a Briton wishing the world would stop thinking of Maradona as a great footballer simply because prior to scoring that wonder goal after slicing through the entire England defence at the 1986 World Cup finals, he had put Argentina in the lead with the now famed "hand of God" goal.

President Mugabe scored a wonderful goal against the British and the entire Western world through the land reform programme.

That is why the Western media and the newspapers and organisations they sponsor want to tarnish his image, but we will never be fooled for they cannot continue killing our prophets while we stand aside and watch.

President Mugabe is a hero, not only to United States-based Zimbabweans, but to everyone in the developing world who knows that it is not by divine providence that the North is rich while the Southern hemisphere is poor.

The reverse is actually true: the South is resource-rich while the North is poor in both natural resources and climate, which is why the inhabitants developed survival tactics that enabled them to loot our resources before we had the weapons to stop them.

Mwana Wevhu.
Zengeza 5,

President is right, we must own our land

Ruvimbo Murindi

EDITOR — I read with interest the article you published in The Saturday Herald (September 16, 2006) that quoted one Ruvimbo Masunungure, a Zimbabwean lawyer in the United States who seemed surprised at the support President Mugabe enjoys in the African-American community.

What prompted me to write this letter is the tongue-in-cheek approach my namesake, Masunungure, seems to have adopted in her call to have the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe lifted while at the same time seeking to influence opinion against President Mugabe in the African-American community.

I have scant regard for people who try to hunt with hares and run with the hounds.

She clearly wants to please her hosts by claiming that the problems in Zimbabwe have to do with issues of human rights and governance, and not the land reform programme.

Only a confused Zimbabwean would defend land tenure as it prevailed before the year 2000.

Masunungure should actually be ashamed that African-Americans, some of whom have never set foot in Zimbabwe, are more conscious than she is.

It is easy to know why they easily side with President Mugabe as they face discrimination every day of their lives.

Anyone who has lived in the Diaspora like me, knows that it is not only the climate that we find cold, but the icy racism that we face on a daily basis that prompts us to know that Gushungo is right, we must own our resources.

When I left Zimbabwe for the United Kingdom in 2001, I was sympathetic to the MDC, but my experiences in the nursing homes with racist old ladies made me wiser.

If every African leader had President Mugabe’s guts, it would be white people who will flock to do menial jobs on our rich continent.

Ruvimbo Murindi.

United Kingdom.


Pan-African News Wire said...

President blasts ‘stupid democracy’

From Itai Musengeyi in HAVANA, Cuba

THE Non-Aligned Movement should reject the unilateral actions of some world powers which impose illegal sanctions or attack other countries in disregard of international law, President Mugabe has said.

Addressing the 14th NAM summit here, Sept. 16, Cde Mugabe said several NAM member states, including Zimbabwe, have been slapped with unilateral sanctions while others like Iraq and Lebanon have suffered from illegal attacks by some Western powers and their allies.

"My strong appeal is that we take a stand to fight against these rampant acts of aggression affecting our countries and peoples," President Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe was slapped with illegal economic sanctions by Britain, the United States and their Western allies after it embarked on the land reform programme in 2000.

Cde Mugabe said the threat of international terrorism was worrying and required the international community to co-operate to combat the scourge.

He said the growth of state terrorism was also disturbing in the wake of a unipolar world.

"Our small states now live in fear as daily threats emanate from the West to attack or undermine our systems in order to bring about regime change.

"The phenomenon of national sovereignty and the exclusive political rights of our people to vote for governments of their own choice is being undermined.

"Democracy has now become the right of a superpower to change governments. My country has rejected this stupid belligerent notion and will resist any attempt to realise it. However, this summit must condemn this dangerous and adventurous tendency of Western powers led by the United States and Britain," he said.

Cde Mugabe said NAM faced new situations which required the grouping to uphold and defend its own purposes and principles, those of the UN and international law for a peaceful, prosperous, just and equitable world.

President Mugabe told delegates at the NAM summit that it was imperative that the movement should improve its cohesion, unity and solidarity to make a difference.

He said the grouping must adapt to the changing international arena to remain relevant.

NAM was supposed to ensure that the United Nations was the pivot of multi-lateralism and its strength in facing the challenges of the 21st century lay in its ability to defend this principle, he said.

Cde Mugabe said development, which must be viewed as a human right, must be at the centre of the UN agenda.

A lot had been said in the past three decades about supporting development efforts in Third World countries, but the developed countries were not committing enough resources towards achieving this.

President Mugabe said momentum generated in the past two years for the reform of the UN Security Council had not produced tangible results.

He said NAM should press for a Security Council that is democratic and representative while pushing for the expansion of the key arm of the UN in both its permanent and non-permanent categories.

"Furthermore, we should guard against attempts to create two or more tiers of member states in the permanent category. If the veto cannot be abolished, then it should be extended to all permanent members," said President Mugabe.

The birth of a new UN Human Rights Council was welcome following the tainted performance of the old Human Rights Commission, said Cde Mugabe.

He said there should be no politicisation, selectivity and double standards in the work of the new council.

"Already we witness a defiance of this same Human Rights Council by those states which disregard its resolution due to their perennial protection by the powerful."

The President also urged developed countries to do more on debt relief as the overall external debt of developing countries continued to rise.

Co-ordinated approaches to external debt and debt servicing, including outright forgiveness, would create a fair and just multilateral trading system.

Cde Mugabe said globalisation and trade liberalisation had produced uneven benefits among and within states.

The global economy was slow and lopsided in growth, resulting in economic instability which hurts developing countries.

"NAM should call for international economic development characterised by greater coherence between the international monetary and financial systems. Furthermore we should continue to call for the creation of a universal, rule-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system."

President Mugabe said NAM and the G77 and China should work to break the current impasse on international trade negotiations which have stalled the Doha talks.

Those responsible for the impasse — the Western economic powers — should remove their unfair domestic agricultural subsidies, he said.

Cde Mugabe said NAM should support and reinvigorate South-South co-operation to break dependence which characterises trade and economic relations between the developed and developing countries.

He said Zimbabwe had adopted a "Look East" policy that has seen it enhance economic relations with China, the Eastern tigers, India, Pakistan and the Middle East.

Cde Mugabe said the critical economic situation in Africa — the least developed and marginalised of all regions — had to be addressed if global economic growth and interdependence was to have meaning.

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