Tendai Mugabe in PORT LOUIS, Mauritius—
African governments have a lot to do if they are to achieve an integrated continental economy and create home-grown solutions to continental problems, President Mugabe has said. Africa, he said, was facing numerous challenges in this endeavour, among them, terrorism and serious labour migration to Europe and the United States of America. President Mugabe made these submissions yesterday during a plenary session of the African Economic Platform (AEP) Summit underway here. “But, I would want to say from a Government point of view, we still have a lot to do to ensure that the environments of our various countries are good enough for investment to come from outside,” he said.
“Terrorism, inter-party fights still worry us. Our brother from Rwanda gave us quite a beautiful description of some of the things they are trying to do, to further the interests of the people but next to them is Burundi. Burundi versus Rwanda, and it’s a situation that is yet to be really prominently remedied so that the two countries can in future live on brotherly terms.
“There is also the Democratic Republic of Congo with a huge population. Yes, there is Inga (Dam) project in the offing, but as I speak now, you have United Nations soldiers in the Congo and even as they are there, you will be having attacks in the eastern side of Congo and everyone wonders whether the Congo, DRC will be stable – the stability of our environments. Those are some of the factors.”
In line with the aspirations of the founding fathers of the African Union, President Mugabe said it was important to come up with a united Africa that speaks with one voice.
He said Member States should also be genuine in their call for an integrated economy by promoting fair trade among African countries.
“We should build ourselves as was promised as entities, regional entities that will merge one day and form more than just the African Union as it is but a much more united African Union, call it if you want, Union of African States with perhaps an authority called the Government of African Union States and these other authorities being subordinate to that authority. When will that day come? We hope it will come in the lives of our children.
“But we who live today and doing our planning should ensure that at least our children are not growing in a state of ignorance that they are affected by the developments which are taking place in the communication sector, in the educational sector.
“If at least in those areas where we can work together say culturally, let’s do so, say also where we can further their interests economically through not just domestic development of the economy, but adding value and ensuring that we have industrialised some of our companies and are earning much more than we used to earn.”
President Mugabe went on: “The more advanced countries like South Africa should continue to lead us not just educationally or technically but also in putting of our economy, and should not resist the fact of our development by not opening itself to whatever goods we are capable of exporting to it and seeking as it where to perpetually as it is, make us its own markets.
“We would want to ensure also that whatever we produce, can easily enter into SA without barriers and that’s not happening and this is why I say, we still have lots, lots to do amongst ourselves to ensure that we are true partners in trade, we are partners regionally, politically and helping each other so we can ensure the development of our people on an even basis.”
On Sadc, President Mugabe said the regional bloc had major strides in promoting free trade and setting up one-stop-shop investment centres.
In his welcome remarks, Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth said: “We are making a paradigm shift and opening a new chapter in the history of the African Union. The AEP allows stakeholders in Africa to pool their resources together to achieve a common set of goals.
“I am sure we want to go far together; I am sure we also need to go fast; we need to go fast as we have much catching up to do if we want to make our continent as strong and resilient as it can be.
“As individual nations, we can only be strong and resilient when our neighbours are strong and resilient. Thus if we are to build a buoyant Africa, we must ensure that we take actions that not only help our individual countries but also our neighbouring ones too. What happened in Gambia this year, is an illustration of how neighbours can play a crucial role in helping a country move forward.”
The AEP Summit is being attended by various stakeholders including the private sector, academia and the civil society.