Nduduzo Tshuma in Johannesburg, South Africa
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday blasted as distorted, claims by Africa’s detractors that the continent’s relations with China were based on the Asian country’s appetite for raw minerals.
Speaking at the summit for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) here, President Mugabe said Africa’s ties with China go deeper than that and the Asian country was doing more for the continent than its former colonisers.
“Once again, our detractors have sought to portray and reduce relations to purely commercial ties driven, in their view, by China’s appetite for raw materials from our continent. That is what they say. On the contrary, reality, fortunately, does not conform to such distorted imaginative creations,” said President Mugabe.
“Our relations go much deeper than the extraction of resources. We’re committed to strengthening the current multi-faceted and multi-dimensional relations between African countries and China.”
President Mugabe was speaking after Chinese President and FOCAC co-chairperson Xi Jinping, had said in address that his country was offering $60 billion in loans and grants to Africa over the next three years.
South African President Jacob Zuma is the co-chairperson of the summit being held under the theme,”China-Africa Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development.”
President Xi said his country would roll out 10 major programmes to strengthen cooperation with Africa in the coming three years in the areas of industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security
President Mugabe, who is also the African Union chairperson, before his speech described President Xi’s statement as rich in terms of covering assistance across all sectors of the continent’s economy.
“Here’s a man representing a country once called poor, a country which never was our colonisers, but there you are, he’s doing to us what we expected those who colonised us yesterday to do. If they have ears to hear, let them hear. We say, may God bless China and its people,” said President Mugabe.
He said the summit celebrates a milestone in the evolution of FOCAC in the 15 years of its inception.
“We therefore rededicate ourselves to the principal guidelines of our relations and to the mutuality of the outcomes we seek in our cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and security spheres. Since the inception of FOCAC, we have witnessed tremendous growth in relations between Africa and China.”
President Mugabe said China has become Africa’s premier investment and trading partner, a trend which will scale up Africa-China trade volumes to $400 billion by 2020 from $220 billion in 2014.
President Mugabe commended efforts by FOCAC to deepen institutional ties with regional bodies such as the AU and its structures as well as the African Development Bank.
“We welcome China’s support for our determination to transform our countries’ economies, through an industrialisation strategy which is driven by beneficiation and value addition of our natural resources and agricultural products,” said President Mugabe.
“We also deeply appreciate China’s willingness and readiness to continue to be a key partner in the development of our infrastructure at the national, regional and continental level.”
President Mugabe said several groupings of African countries took some major decisions that, when implemented, will give strong impetus to improving intra-African trade, and in offering external partners such as China, a much larger source and trade market.
He said the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and COMESA – EAC – SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area should contribute to integrating Africa’s markets in facilitating the free movement of goods.
“There is no doubt that the rise of China and Africa, as two significant players, will have a positive and far reaching impact in international relations that ensure the democratisation of the internal system of governance,” said President Mugabe.
“The perpetuation of the historic injustice of the current system, be it in the United Nations Security Council or the Bretton Woods institutions, is unhealthy and undesirable. Now together with China we should push for real democracy at the United Nations. We continue to count on China’s support and solidarity in redressing this situation.”
President Mugabe said in pursuit of implementing the global development agenda adopted at the United Nations in New York last September, it was important to assess the efficiency of FOCAC in the new development context.
In his address, President Xi called for the upgrading of China-Africa strategic partnership to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership assuring the continent that his country will adhere to the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith and strike a right balance between upholding principles and pursuing benefits in its Africa policy.
President Xi said the cooperation will be based on equality and mutual trust and that his country’s stance that Africa should manage its own affairs and that China was ready to assist the continent in safeguarding peace and security.
President Zuma paid tribute to President Xi for the new measures and also acknowledged, “the tangible contribution of the People’s Republic of China’s with regard to peacekeeping in Africa. In addition to participating in up to sixteen United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in Africa, China currently has approximately 2 000 peacekeeping personnel on the ground. We appreciate this commitment to peace, development and progress,” said President Zuma.
“It gives practical meaning to the belief of President Xi that China’s military capability must be utilised to achieve peace.”