Paul Nyathi|President Emmerson Mnangagwa leaves Harare on Wednesday for Lusaka, Zambia where he will attend the 20th Summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
Heads of State and Government from the regional bloc’s 19 member states are expected to attend the summit, which ends on Thursday and the much talked about Zimbabwean elections to be held in a fortnight are not on the agenda.
Zimbabwean opposition parties particularly the lead opposition, the MDC Alliance have been calling on the international community and African states to intervene in what they claim to be a flowed process in the run up to the elections.
The summit will be held under the theme “Comesa: Towards Digital Economic Integration.”
The theme rallies member states towards the full adoption of digital technologies to establish seamless processes across the Comesa region to enable the ease of doing business and to enhance regional integration using information and communication technologies.
The programme of the summit at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in the Zambian capital started on Monday last week with meetings of the grouping’s policy organs. The Council of Ministers met on Saturday and Sunday.
They welcomed the peace deal reached between Ethiopia and Eritrea that ended a 20-year conflict between the two Comesa member states.
Ethiopia and Eritrea were involved in a border dispute between 1998 and 2000 but the neighbours only recently agreed to restore the diplomatic, trade and transportation links that had been cut during that war.
Key issues on the summit agenda include the consideration of membership to Comesa by Tunisia and Somalia. Negotiations for their admission were concluded a few months ago.
The only highlight involving Zimbabwe will be the appointment of a new Comesa secretary general to replace Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, a Zimbabwean who has held that position since May 2008.
Zambia’s Vice President, Mrs Inonge Wina, speaking at the opening of the 16th meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs praised Mr Ngwenya for steering the regional body over the past decade.
“When he was appointed as Secretary General our programme on peace and security was operating with three programmes and a relatively small budget,” she said.
“Through his tenure, he has overseen an increase in cooperating partners and programmes. He oversaw the development and implementation of the Comesa conflict early warning system, as well as a programme on democracy including the professional observation of over 20 elections.”