President Mugabe arrived here yesterday to attend a highlevel 8th Summit of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of States (ACP) that starts today. The President, who is accompanied by the First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe, Industry and Commerce Minister Cde Mike Bimha and secretaries, Messrs Joey Bimba and George Charamba, joins eight Prime Ministers and other senior Government officials attending the meeting from the 79 ACP countries. He was received at Jackson International Airport in Port Moresby by Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Zimbabwe Ambassador to Indonesian who also covers Papua New Guinea, Cde Alice Mageza and Zimbabwean envoy to Brussels, Cde Tedious Chifamba among other senior officials.
Papua New Guinea Public Service Minister Sir Puka Temu and Minister for National Events, Mr Justice Takchemneko, were among senior officials from the host Government that received President Mugabe and his delegation. The summit is expected to discuss issues affecting the block among them the future of the ACP group as a revitalised cohesive force advocating for the interests of its members in the international arena. The grouping consists of 79 states, with all of them, except for Cuba, being signatories to the Cotonou Agreement, also known as the “ACPEuropean Union Partnership Agreement.”
Speaking to The Herald on arrival, Mr Charamba said Zimbabwe’s attendance of the high level meeting was critical as it shaped the future political and economic interests of the country. He slammed the private media that tried to discredit the summit by claiming it was only Zimbabwe that was represented at the Head of State and Government level. He said the private media had displayed its ignorance of how the ACP operated. Mr Charamba said the ACP was dominated by Commonwealth countries in executive authority reposed in the office of the Prime Minister. “So it means for the purposes of this meeting the executive authority is in the office of the Prime Minister.
You cannot create Presidency where it does not exist. One does not have to parade such ignorance on how authority is distributed (in the ACP).” The ACP lays the platform for interaction with the EU in areas of trade, development and governance and that relationship is guided by Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement. “We use that platform (ACP) to fight the illegal sanctions. The Cotonou Agreement ends in 2020 and this summit (here in Papua New Guinea) is to lay the foundation for the successor agreement.
The only way countries can protect themselves is to be part of the formative successor agreement. There is more at stake here than flights and dollars,” he said. On arrival at Jackson International Airport, there were wild cheers from thousands of people who had gathered to receive the President. Hundreds of local people clad in traditional regalia cheered President Mugabe. Papua New Guinea is endowed with vast natural resources, including oil, natural gas, gold, copper and timber; but most of are siphoned out by rich countries