Congo Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso has invited President Mugabe to officially open an international environmental conference next week. The message was delivered to Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa at his New Government Complex offices in Harare by Congo Minister of Sustainable Development, Forest Economy and Environment Mr Henri Djombo.
President Mugabe is in Indonesia attending the Asia-Africa Summit that began yesterday.
Speaking after meeting Cde Mnangagwa, Mr Djombo said the conference, which seeks to discuss wildlife poaching on the continent, will run from April 27 to 30.
“We brought an invitation from President Sassou Nguesso to his brother President Mugabe, who is also the chair of the African Union,” he said.
“We are now preparing an international conference about the fight against poaching and illegal trading of geological resources of Africa. You know that our countries are facing poaching problems and we have to decide together to have a common strategy of fighting this phenomenon.”
Mr Djombo said the Congolese viewed President Mugabe as a hero and an exemplary man hence the decision to invite him.
“President Mugabe is considered a hero in Congo, an emblematic man and his vision about this matter (poaching) is very important for Africa at this conference which he will open in Brazzaville,” he said.
“We know that the schedule of the President is very tight but we hope that he will be in Brazzaville.”
Africa has in recent years seen an increase in poaching activities with conservationists in 2011 putting the number of elephants slaughtered at 50 000.
The poaching scourge, that has been out of control in Central and East Africa, has affected Zimbabwe with a 40 percent decrease in numbers of wildlife in the Zambezi Valley and a 75 percent decrease in Matusadona and Chizarira areas in the past 13 years.
In Central Africa alone, where population growth averages 5 percent per annum, the rate of animal poaching has been 7 percent per an- num.