Thursday, June 26, 2014

President Mugabe Leaves For AU Summit
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe leaves for African Union Summit
in Malabo, Equatoria Guinea.
June 25, 2014
Morris Mkwate
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mugabe left Harare yesterday to attend the 23rd Ordinary African Union Heads of State and Government Summit, which opens in Equatorial Guinea tomorrow. The President, who is also the First Deputy AU Chair was accompanied by Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made and other senior Government officials.

The two-day AU summit, running under the theme: “Agriculture and Food Security” is scheduled to consider progress on Agenda 2063, Africa’s guiding vision for the next 50 years.

It will also discuss plans to resolve armed conflict and consolidate peace on the continent as well as recommit to the overarching Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) targets of raising agriculture investment and productivity.

In addition, the leaders are likely to review April’s Africa-European Union Summit, while projecting the Africa-United States meeting scheduled for August.

In keeping with tradition, the assembly will welcome newly-elected presidents Peter Mutharika (Malawi), Jose Mario Vaz (Guinea Bissau) and Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi (Egypt) who will address the opening session.

United Nations Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon and prime minister Mariano Rajoy Brey of Spain are among the special guests.

In January this year, the AU General Assembly adopted Agenda 2063 after foreign ministers meeting in Ethiopia emerged with key strategies aimed at leveraging Africa over the next 50 years.

The ministers noted that the bulk of continental peace initiatives were foreign-funded, while Africa’s voice remained on the periphery of international discourse.

It was unanimously agreed that Africa must have “strong, bold” leaders and assert control over its natural resources, work towards realigning education systems with entrepreneurial skills development, resolve armed conflict and determine its place in the world.

The General Assembly committed to eight critical areas: African identity and renaissance; continuing the struggle against colonialism and the right to self-determination of people still under colonial rule; the integration agenda; the social and economic development agenda as well as the peace and security agenda.

Democratic governance, determining Africa’s destiny and its place in the world were also adopted as priority areas.

Under CAADP, whose foremost objective relates to eliminating hunger and poverty reduction, member states aim to achieve greater economic growth through agriculture-led development.

By next year, it is hoped the programme will have helped create dynamic agricultural markets within countries and between regions and also spurred more equitable wealth distribution to rural communities.

In addition to empowering communities through land reforms, Zimbabwe continues to surpass a target for governments to dedicate at least 10 percent of their national budgets to public agriculture investments.

Last year alone, over 1,6 million small-holder farmers received inputs under the Presidential Input Support Scheme and it is believed this group accounts for 75 percent of the crop produced in the 2013 /2014 summer farming season.

Speaking at the Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC) opening session last Friday, AU Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said:

“The work on Agenda 2063, as our discussions at the joint PRC-AU Commission retreat showed, must move beyond aspirations, towards identifying those concrete areas where we must see action and faster movement forward in the next decade, so that we start building the Africa that we want today.

“The theme of this Summit and its focus on agriculture and food security is but one such area.

“The theme debate must see us recommit to the overarching CAADP targets of raising investment and productivity in agriculture.”

President Mugabe was seen off at the Harare International Airport by Senior Minister of State Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo, Minister of Presidential Affairs Didymus Mutasa, senior Government officials and service chiefs.

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