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Mugabe New York trip raises eyebrows


President Robert Mugabe’s trip to New York where he is attending a United Nations Youths’ meeting has raised eyebrows after it emerged Friday he was the only Head of State in attendance.

President Mugabe left Harare on Thursday night with a delegation that includes his wife Grace, Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, and Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere and other high-level officials.

The exact number of people who accompanied the President to New York was not immediately known although United Nations sources said it was “bloated”.

It emerged Friday President Mugabe was the only Head of State attending the two-day meeting of youths which starts on Monday and is running under the theme, “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”.

“At the core of my concern is that Zimbabwe will be the only other country to send a President to this low-level meeting — the other country is Benin. The other co-chair is Austria and no President is coming,” A UN source in New York told NewsDay. The source said the Benin leader’s presence was justified because the West African country was a co-chair for the meeting.

But Kasukuwere said President Mugabe was attending the youths meeting to show government’s commitment to youth empowerment.

“Zimbabwe has ratified a number of protocols and international agreements and these guide government in coming up with programmes that focus on challenges faced by youths, especially under-employment and unemployment,” Kasukuwere said.

According to the programme all the other countries participating at the meeting are represented by either ministers or government officials.

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