Takunda Maodza in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa arrived here yesterday afternoon for the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU). He is accompanied by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and Government officials, including the Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Mr George Charamba.
The President was welcomed at Bole International Airport by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, who was already here, and Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and permanent representative to the AU Mr Albert Chimbindi.
Also at the airport to welcome the President was Ethiopia’s Transport Minister, Ms Moges Dagmawit.
The summit is running under the theme “The year of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons: Towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa”. Zimbabwe is home to over 11 000 registered refugees and asylum seekers.
They comprise Congolese, Mozambicans, Rwandese, Burundians, Ethiopians, Malians, Ugandans and Somalis.
Besides the refugees and the internally displaced, the summit will appoint a new AU chair, who will succeed President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
President Mnangagwa was seen off at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, service chiefs and other senior Government officials
VP Mohadi is the Acting President.
Africa is home to 6,3 million refugees and 14,5 million internally displaced people.
As leaders meet in Addis Ababa, there is a proposal to shift the portfolio for refugees and displaced persons from the political affairs department.
The idea is to shift the AU Commission’s humanitarian affairs, refugees and displaced persons division to the new department for health, humanitarian affairs and social department as part of reforms envisaged by the continental body.