The Herald (Harare)

Africa: 'Keep Dirty Hands Off Africa'

Photo: Thijs Bouwknegt/RNW
International Criminal Court in the Hague

Africa should avoid entering "horse and rider" economic arrangements that only benefit other nations while leaving the continent poorer, President Mugabe has said.

President Mugabe, in an invitation to Serbia to establish stronger economic relations with Zimbabwe, criticised Europe for trying to keep its "dirty hands" on Africa and also appealed to progressive countries not to allow the Non-Aligned Movement's foremost doctrine of peace to die.

In an interview with the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation at the African Union Headquarters here yesterday, the President said Serbia - part of the former Yugoslavia -  was Zimbabwe's "perfect friend" and had never discriminated against the country.

He said areas of possible co-operation included manufacturing, ICTs, mining, infrastructure development and agriculture.

"As I was saying to the Foreign Minister (of Serbia, Mr Ivan Mrkic), we should link up first; have a team that comes from Serbia, visiting us, discussing economic relations. And we also would want to discuss, naturally, the Non-Aligned Movement, if Serbia can continue, if Serbia is able to continue, what Yugoslavia was doing with that movement.

"But first and foremost, we would want economic relations with Serbia. If we can get groups that can come to discuss joint ventures in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, infrastructural work and ICT. We want Serbia (to come) and we will give it preferential treatment because it has given us that treatment in the past."

The President criticised Europe for seeking to dictate to Africa what it should do, saying Westerners should keep their "dirty hands" off the continent.

"Whereas in other areas -- Europe, America -- they will shake hands with you, yes, but they will always regard you as inferior. And to this day, we have that problem that Europe wants to continue to dictate to us.

"They do not want to recognise that we are a free people; that we can run our own affairs without them. And we continue to tell them, 'Please, keep your dirty hands away from our business'.

"We are what we are: masters of our own destiny in Africa. The resources of Africa are not resources of Europe anymore, no. We have kicked you out of Africa. Take care of your own countries and leave us to take care of our Africa and that is that.

"We will choose our friends; we want good friends like Serbia. Those are the ones we want to relate to, those who will see us for what we are and who will allow us to see them for what they are.

"That's the friendship we want and not that of, as they used to call it, horse and rider. And who was to be the horse? That's what they used to say: 'We want the partnership of horse and rider in Africa'.

"Of course, we would be the horse and they the rider. And we were ridden for too long. But even the horse has its way of kicking; kicking the rider and getting rid of them if it gets annoyed. We did get annoyed and overhauled the rider, never to rise again."

President Mugabe said Zimbabwe and Serbia shared cordial relations that saw Serbian construction giant, Energo Projekt, build the Harare International Conference Centre and Zanu-PF Headquarters.

He said Serbia provided a critical voice in world affairs as it led the formation of NAM under the visionary leadership of Marshal Josip Broz Tito.

"We should, first, not allow the doctrine of NAM, non-violence, to die, which means peace among the nations; between the nations; within the nations. That must survive, not necessarily as a derivative of the Non-Aligned Movement because NAM also derived it from experience in the past that it was necessary for people to live in peace and this deriving from wars that had been fought in the past, especially the Second World War.

"You must also associate a movement of that nature with those who were behind it and Marshal Tito is one of the greatest movers of the Non-Aligned Movement; he and others who belong to it. Later, we of Africa joined him to further that movement. It's not dead yet. We must continue it."

Earlier, President Mugabe held bilateral talks with Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza, Ghana's former president Mr John Kufuor, and Serbia's Foreign Minister Mr Ivan Mrkic.

Speaking to journalists after their meeting, President Guebuza said discussions centred on economic co-operation.

"The talks went on very well. He is a friend of Mozambique and we are both friends. We understand the issues in our countries and had a chance to exchange views on economic co-operation," he said.

President Mugabe also discussed economic co-operation with Mr Mrkic.

Mr Kufuor, who with Norway's former prime minister Mr Jens Stoltenberg, was recently appointed United Nations Special Climate Change Envoy, briefed the President on the Climate Change Summit scheduled for New York in September this year.

The Summit seeks to mobilise political commitment for the conclusion of a global agreement by 2015 and to expedite action on climate change.

"They say charity begins at home, so I came to see my brother (following my appointment as one of the Climate Change Special Envoys). The United Nations secretary-general has sent us to leaders to discuss climate change," said Mr Kufuor.

"Everyone has a part to play -- the so called developing and developed world. It is affecting everyone, so we should work to arrest its impact."

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