HARARE, Sept 28 — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe returned home on Saturday from New York where he had gone to attend the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

He told thousands of ruling ZANU-PF party supporters, who thronged the airport to welcome him, that Zimbabwe was increasingly being recognised internationally for fiercely protecting her sovereignty, and empowering its people.

This year’s UN General Assembly focused on crafting a global development agenda after the expiry of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) programme next year.

Like the MDG, this is meant to, among other things, uplift people from extreme poverty, eradicate disease, reduce child and maternal deaths and ensure inclusive growth.

President Mugabe told the General Assembly that through land reforms, and now the Zimbabwe Agenda for Social and Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset), the country had made headway in attaining some of the MDGs inspite of crippling western sanctions.

He said Zim-Asset was laying a strong foundation for the post-MDG development agenda in the country, emphasizing on local empowerment and control of natural resources.

It was only through local control and exploitation of natural resources such as land and minerals that developing nations can prosper, he said.

President Mugabe told party supporters the third world was now appreciating and accepting Zimbabwe’s development stance, for which the country has paid dearly through sanctions by the west.

“We have fought off Britain and other neo-colonialists and many countries now understand our struggle and how important it is when it comes to development,” he said.

“You cannot develop as a country when your resources are owned and controlled by foreigners like France controls the oil resources of its former colonies in Africa such as Gabon,” he added.

Turning to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), of which he is chairman, President Mugabe said the regional group took advantage of the General Assembly to brief the United Nations about the security situation in the 14-nation bloc.

He said the focus of the brief was on the Democratic Republic of Congo where a peace plan between the government and some rebel groups appears to be faltering.

But he said Lesotho, another member of SADC where the military attempted a coup last month, was not tabled to the UN as the regional group was still grappling with the issue internally.

He urged supporters to unite as ZANU-PF heads for an elective congress in December, saying only in unity can the party overcome and succeed.

“Let’s go to congress united, and avoid fighting among ourselves. Unity is what is most important in the party,” President Mugabe said.

There has been serious infighting in the party ahead of congress, with two factions vying for supremacy.

President Mugabe told supporters to be wary of party leaders who vied for positions on factional basis, saying these should be shunned.

SOURCE:New Ziana