PRESIDENT Mugabe has left Harare for Jakarta, Indonesia where he joins other world leaders for the Asia -Africa Summit that coincides with celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the historic Bandung conference that laid the groundwork for the Non-Aligned Movement.

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In April, 1955, representatives from 29 governments drawn from Asia and Africa gathered in Bandung, Indonesia to deliberate on peace and the role of the developing world in the Cold War, economic development, and decolonisation.

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The core principles of the Bandung Conference were political self-determination, mutual respect for sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, and equality of nations.

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These principles were integral for all participants, most of whom had just emerged from colonial rule where many of their people were treated as second class citizens in their own polities.

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The governments of Burma, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka co-sponsored the Bandung Conference, and they brought together an additional 24 nations from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

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The Non-Aligned Movement has, however, struggled to remain relevant in the increasingly uni-polar, post-Cold War era as member states forged new alliances and gained economic clout.

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Mugabe’s absenteeism has been worse this year as he globetrots across Africa as the chairperson of the African Union (AU) and Southern Africa Development Community, shuttling to the Far East for regular medical treatment.

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Several trips have been made in the next three months. Mugabe, went to South Africa,  Algeria for a three-day state visit, he went to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, India, Ivory Coast, Singapore and twice to South Africa for regional meetings and personal business.

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This year alone he has been in and out of the country eight times since January.

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Mugabe has been to the Far East three times this year. He extended his annual holiday by a week in January to allow him time to recuperate after he reportedly underwent what was said to be a prostate cancer operation at Parkway Cancer Centre at state-of-the-art Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore.

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Mugabe is battling health problems, among them reportedly prostate cancer, eye and knee problems and his trips to the Far East are increasing.

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Since his return from Asia Mugabe first flew out to Zambia where he attended the inauguration of Edgar Lungu, who replaced President Michael Sata who died last year.

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Mugabe then left for Ethiopia for the AU summit where he was elected chairperson.

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After spending less than three days in Harare, Mugabe left for the Far East where he went to collect his ailing wife, who was admitted at a private hospital.

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He was in Zimbabwe for two weeks before flying out to South Africa for the Sadc troika summit on Lesotho, in his capacity as Sadc chair.

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He was in Singapore for medical treatment and Japan for the United Nations summit on disaster and risk management where he spent a week.

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Upon his return Mugabe spent just a day in the country before flying out to Namibia to witness the swearing-in of new President Hage Geingob.

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He then spent two nights in Harare before leaving for Algeria.

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Mugabe also went to Arusha, Tanzania, for a Chinese youth summit from Algeria.

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He went to Addis Ababa for the 18th summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa held from March 30 to March 31, and then South Africa for a three-day visit from April 7-9.

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The president, at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is also likely to also visit India. This is part of India’s lobbying efforts for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

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“The Indian Prime Minister met with President Mugabe in Japan and he asked him to lobby the African Union, as its chair, for India to get the permanent seat in the UN. The dates have not been set but indications are that he will visit India soon,” said a government official.

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Other trips lined up include a Sadc troika meeting in South Africa, an AU summit in June/July also in South Africa, and an African Union meeting in Ivory Coast, which will coincide with the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual general meeting end of May in Abidjan, where the new AfDB president will be elected and the 50th anniversary of the bank marked.

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According to media reports, Mugabe’s trips have so far gobbled more than US$10 million since January at a time government is battling to pay civil servants and grow the imploding economy. Government revenues continue to dwindle at an alarming rate due to a severe liquidity crunch which has caused low capacity utilisation, company closures and job losses.

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The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is failing to reach its revenue collection targets, with figures from January indicating a 14% deficit.

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Net collections from January to date have amounted to US$468,53 million against a target of US$542,08 million.