By Gift Phiri
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe is today set to embark on yet another money blowing globe-trotting journey and this time he is headed for Indonesia for a summit and the commemoration of the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement (Nam).
Mugabe will attend the Asia-Africa Summit and the commemoration of the historic Bandung summit held in Indonesia in 1955, which has brought together Africa and Asia to push forward the struggle for liberation and self-determination.
This week’s summit will mark the 60th anniversary of the Asia-Africa conference, a gathering that laid the foundation for Nam.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to attend the Asia-Africa conference, that is being hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
South Africa President Jacob Zuma has deployed his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa after cancelling his visit to handle matters at home relating to attacks on foreign nationals that has courted international condemnation.
The summit offers Mugabe the prospect of increasing economic integration, not just in Asia but also with other regions.
Sandwiched between the formal summits is the meeting in Bandug where dozens of formal and informal meetings with world leaders will be held to advance Nam interests.
Yuri Thamrin, the directorate general of Asia-Africa relations at the Indonesian Foreign ministry, revealed in a statement this week that “Africa is an opportunity”.
Like Asia, Africa is home to many of the world’s fastest growing economies and a rising middle class, he said, pointing to growth in two-way trade between the regions that jumped from $2,8 billion in 1990 to $270 billion by 2012.
More than 100 world leaders started gathering in Jakarta yesterday to mark the formation of Nam when in 1955, representatives from 29 governments of Asian and African nations gathered in Bandung, to discuss peace and the role of the Third World in the Cold War, economic development, and decolonisation.
Leaders of developing countries banded together to avoid being forced to take sides in the Cold War contest. The initial motivation for the movement was the promotion of peace.
In the 1970s Nam grew increasingly radical in its condemnation of the policies of the Cold War super powers.
But unlike the original gathering, which included mostly Asian participants, this year’s summit will be largely even.
In 1955, the conference was focused on peace, security and economic development at the time of the Cold War.
Sixty years on, the world is very different, and many are asking whether Nam still carries any relevance.
In previous summits, African and Asian nations have agreed on urgent measures to tackle illegal ivory trade — from the slaughter of elephants to the trafficking of their valuable tusks to East Asia. Daily News