Lloyd Gumbo in BEIJING, China
President Mugabe yesterday met African diplomats based here, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Speaker of the National People’s Congress, Zhang Dejiang in separate meetings, where they described him as an African statesman who stood up to challenge the West despite the imposition of sanctions on the country.Zimbabwe’s ambassador to China, Cde Fredrick Shava, said it had become a tradition for African diplomats to meet Heads of State visiting China on state visits.
Ambassadors took turns to praise President Mugabe after he addressed them on the developments in Zimbabwe, Africa and his visit to China.
Sierra Leone ambassador, Mr Victor Bockarie, was the first to heap praises on President Mugabe.
“You are a man we admire in our part of Africa. You are indeed a true son of Africa. You are standing the test of our former colonial bosses on the issue of land… Thank you for your endurance even if sanctions have been put on your doorstep,” said Ambassador Bockarie.
He implored President Mugabe to raise the threat of Ebola on the continent at the forthcoming African Union Summit.
Liberia’s ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Mr Mckniley Thomas, chipped in: “We are also great admirers of His Excellency, the President, a great son of Africa.”
A Nigerian representative praised President Mugabe for being the only leader who had told white people to back off.
In his remarks, President Mugabe said it was important for Africa to unite against imperialists.
He chronicled the bilateral dispute between Harare and London saying it arose after the country redistributed land to the landless majority.
He reiterated that it was important for Africans to add value to their natural resources in order for them to realise full benefits from the same.
President Mugabe said there was need for adequate infrastructure for the continent to fully industrialise.
He said Africa expected South Africa to take the lead in the industrialisation process of other African states, but to no avail since the economy in that country was still under white control.
President Mugabe said other countries on the continent would be patient with South Africa to address the skewed ownership of resources for the whole continent to benefit.
He said it was important for countries to merge businesses if they were similar so that they could improve their performance.
He blasted the West for killing former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi under the guise of protecting civilians.
That country, he said had remained ungovernable while at the same time bemoaning problems bedevilling South Sudan where authorities in that country were on each other’s throat.
Premier Keqiang said the Sino-Zimbabwe relations had continued to grow because of mutual respect between the two countries.
“Our two countries have always grown our relationship on the basis of mutual respect and equality and I believe that this visit by you to China this time will be further impetus to the growth of our bilateral ties,” he said.
President Mugabe said: “We came on a State visit which we hoped as it was going to be accompanied by a programme to discuss cooperation and therefore we hoped would produce for us the necessary aid assistance from China that we need in order for us to boost our economy, to get the various sectors of our economy moving even as they are suffering from the burden of illegal sanctions imposed by Britain, Europe and America. And some discussions have taken place already.”
Mr Dejiang also praised President Mugabe for being a statesman.
“Mr President, you are a great leader of Zimbabwe and you are also one of the great champions in Africa. For a very long time you have made very important and significant contributions to the independence and development of Zimbabwe and the independence and liberation of Africa and I would like to pay tribute to you for your contribution,” he said.