By Nkosana Dlamini
Under sanctions President Emmerson Mnangagwa will not physically attend the UN General Assembly in New York this September, skipping the only chance he has annually to set foot on US territory.
In a statement Monday, Deputy Chief Secretary Presidential Communications George Charamba said the Zimbabwean leader will take part in the 21-27 September world summit virtually.
The decision, according to Charamba, is “to allow for the consolidation of reforms and recovery of the economy”.
Charamba said due to the continued pandemic threat, organisers of the global event have recommended a “hybrid Assembly where member states have an option to either physically through country delegates or virtually through country online platforms”.
He added, “In light of the Covid-19 global threat and to allow for the consolidation of reforms and recovery of our economy whose fundamentals are pointing in a positive trajectory, His Excellency the President Dr E.D Mnangagwa has this year decided not to attend the United Nations General Assembly in person.
“Instead, he will participate virtually via video conferencing. This mode includes his pre-recorded address which is slotted for Thursday 23 September 2021 and any other high-level meetings occurring on the side-lines of the main debate.”
The annual UN General Assembly has been the only opportunity available for a Zimbabwean incumbent to visit the US which in 2001 slapped the country’s top leadership with a travel ban and asset freeze on accusations of rights abuses, unbridled corruption and poll theft.
The abandoned trip will also not be received well by the President’s hangers on as this is often an opportunity to make a windfall through travel and subsistence often amounting to up to US$10 000 per trip.