Mabasa Sasa in ISLA MARGARITA, Venezuela
THE Non-Aligned Movement must find common ground to tackle powerful nations that seek to undermine the economic sovereignty of developing countries, President Mugabe has said.
Speaking to Zimbabwean and international media soon after arriving here yesterday, President Mugabe also called for strengthening of bilateral ties with the host of the 17th NAM summit.
“It is possibly the fourth or fifth time we are visiting Venezuela and it is, therefore, an occasion to renew our relations with Venezuela.
“We would want to see those relations blossom and see us cooperating in many spheres. (These are) fields that have to do with our industrial cooperation, fields that have to also do with the social aspect of the health of our people.
“(We are also looking at) our relations together as we relate to the United Nations in defence of ourselves against powers that seek to harm our economies.”
President Mugabe; who is accompanied by First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi and senior government officials was received at Margarita International Airport by Venezuela’s minister of culture Mr Reinaldo Iturriza, the local mayor and senior officials from Venezuela’s foreign affairs ministry, as well as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the region Mr Thomas Bvuma.
President Mugabe has on several occasions challenged NAM to evaluate its relevance and lead the process of reforming multilateral financial lending institutions and the United Nations in pursuit of a more equitable global order.
It is a message Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro Moros also believes in, saying ahead of the Summit “we have a plan to jointly drive … this great historic movement and convert it into a spearhead to reform the system of the UN, so that it serves the people and not the elites of the world”.
NAM has 120 members and is focused on self-determination, independence, and sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of increasing unilateralism in global affairs led by the United States and abetted by the European Union.
Established in 1961 as a bold statement to the then existing attempt to create a bipolar world divided between the US and the now defunct USSR, NAM espoused the establishment of a new international economic order in which all nations were equal.
It is the largest international organisation after the United Nations, and its Summit this year takes place on the eve of the UN General Assembly in the US.
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez has said, “The Summit will offer a broad platform for a fundamental change in international economic relations and the complete economic emancipation of Southern countries.”
President Maduro assumes NAM’s rotating presidency from Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
The host nation has been wracked by pro-US opposition protests, and the government has deployed 14 000 security personnel on Margarita, which lies about 23km north of the mainland, to protect NAM delegates.
At the end of the 2012 Summit, leaders issued the Tehran Declaration which emphasised the right of all countries to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes while advocating for nuclear disarmament, condemned unilateral imposition of sanctions, supported creation of a Palestinian state, and supported human rights free from political agendas and opposition to racism and Islamophobia.
NAM has consistently criticised illegal Western sanctions unilaterally imposed on Zimbabwe.
There have been concerns, though, about NAM’s continued relevance since the 1989 fall of the Berlin wall, with analysts saying the bloc should find ways of advancing the agenda of development when confronted with neo-colonialism and a destructive brand of neoliberalism.