ZIMBABWE – WASHINGTON D.C.—Some Zimbabweans, who have been vocal about President Robert Mugabe’s foreign trips saying he is spending too much time away from home, are supporting his presence at the United Nations General Assembly in New York saying as head of state he should be there.
But they are worried that at 91, the strain of attending such huge events may just be too much for him. His recent gaffe in parliament where he read a wrong speech in parliament left many Zimbabweans worried as to whether the President remains fully in control.
Harare resident, Ras Chanakira, though supporting Mr. Mugabe, to attend what is billed to be the largest gathering of world leaders in the years, is worried that another gaffe may not be too far away given the president’s advancing age.
“He is the head of state and by right should be there to represent our country just like all the other presidents are doing,” says Chanakira.
“My only concern is that may he be extra careful that he’s not given the wrong speech again, otherwise I totally have no bone to chew with him on this one.”
Another Harare resident, Wakefield Mlilo, says Mr. Mugabe must be in America for the UN meeting because Zimbabwe is part of the global community.
“The only concern I have is about his health. Maybe he should from time to time send his deputy or the minister of foreign affairs or someone else to reduce stress and protect himself since he’s not as young as he used to be and active,” said Mlilo.
Political commentator Takura Zhangazha agrees with the ordinary Zimbabweans on this one.
“The UN is a very important institution which cannot be ignored. No matter we have complaints about SADC, about other extra trips to south-east Asia, this one is a necessary one,” said Zhangazha.
“You have to demonstrate solidarity with the global community and understand that historically we owe a lot to the United Nations as Africans and Zimbabweans.”
Zhangazha says Mr. Mugabe as head of state and chairman of the African Union has some business to discuss with the world body and other institutions that would be represented during the general assembly.
The 70th Regular Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 70) opened at UN Headquarters opened on 15 September with civil society and other crucial meetings.
Pope Francis addressed the general assembly Friday and the Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda has also started convening.
The general debate in which Presidents give their speeches begins Monday until 6 October. President Mugabe will speak Monday and leave for Harare the following day.