Friday, October 30, 2015

Africa, India Demand Reforms
October 30, 2015
Cletus Mushanawani in New Delhi, India
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mugabe, who is also the African Union chairman, yesterday said Africa and India should not accept being treated as dwarfs by the United Nations. In his keynote address as co-chairman of the third India-Africa Forum Summit held at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, which was converted into a makeshift convention centre, President Mugabe said the UN created a system where other countries were recognised as giants, while others were treated as dwarfs.

“Has the United Nations really united us?” he said. “Yes, it has brought us together in a kind of form where others are giants and others are dwarfs. “We were made dwarfs at the United Nations, but why should we accept that? We have India and us who are geographical twins and together we constitute a third of the world population, but somehow the third of the world population is treated as a little kid and we say no,” he said.

“The third of the world population must be respected. It is our right to be treated equally and with respect. That is why we say let us amend the United Nations Charter to have equal nations, as we are not equal.” President Mugabe said Africa had agreed to have two permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council with veto power and was also backing India in its quest to have a permanent seat.

“We, together with India, want equality,” he said. “Hear us you who call yourselves permanent members of the Security Council. We will only accept real and genuine equality. Let us be equal in everything,” he said.

“We say whoever you are and you call yourself Algeria, Guinea, Senegal, South Africa or whatever name, you are African and are all equal, hence we should speak with one voice. Together with India we are two continents with people who have the right of self-determination. As equal people we can work and develop together and see our people making progress together.

“We believe in humanity, equality and making the world have equal opportunities.” His co-chairperson of the summit, Prime Minister Modi of India, also called for UN reform. “Excellencies, this is a milestone year when we are setting the agenda for our future and celebrating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations,” he said.

“The world is undergoing political, economic, technological and security transition on a scale and speed rarely seen in recent history. Yet our global institutions reflect the circumstances of the century that we left behind, not the one we are in today.” Prime Minister Modi said institutions like the UN needed to adjust to the changing world or risk becoming irrelevant.

“We cannot say what will replace them in an uncertain future,” he said. “But we might have a more fragmented world that is less capable of dealing with the challenges of our era. That is why India advocates reforms in global institutions,” he said.

“This is a world of free nations and awakened aspirations. Our institutions cannot be representative of our world, if they do not give voice to Africa, with more than a quarter of UN. members, or the world’s largest democracy with one-sixth of humanity. That is why India and Africa must speak with one voice for reforms of the United Nations, including its Security Council.”

On the economic front, President Mugabe commended India for committing $7,4 billion in concessional credit and $1,2 billion in grants to Africa since the first India-Africa Summit in 2008. The assistance has helped in creating 100 capacity building institutions and developing infrastructure, public transport, clean energy, irrigation, agriculture and manufacturing capacity across Africa.

“We really appreciate this generous gift from India and it did not come from those who robbed and deprived us of our humanity,” said President Mugabe. “We now need a robust evaluation to ensure the effective implementation of programs and projects agreed by ourselves. We should have realistic targets. Let us be courageous enough to point out lack of progress to speed up the meeting of intended goals.”

President Mugabe said strategic partnerships had huge potential for the economic growth of India and Africa. “There is need for inclusiveness so that all member states enjoy benefits offered by our partnership,” he said. “We are two equal people who recognise each other as partners.” Prime Minister Modi and the African heads of State and Government attending the summit visited a business exhibition at the venue yesterday afternoon.

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