President Jacob Zuma has urged fellow heads of state from southern Africa not to "sell the female cow that produces milk" and buy back the milk later, but rather keep it. "You can sell the other cow," he told applauding leaders attending the opening of the Southern African Development summit on Saturday.
Zuma said this in the context of Africans benefiting from Africa's own resources. "I don't think if we do so, we would be becoming difficult. We would just be normal on a normal situation. It is absolutely important, it can happen," he said.
Zuma urged leaders to make use of the BRICS New Development Bank that launched its Africa Regional Centre in Sandton this week.
He said loans for development projects often came with "conditions which dictate which companies to use in project implementation, and sometimes [it is] even dictating the sources of raw materials. This must change," he said to applause.
"There is a need to mobilise regional resources to fund regional projects."
Zuma also said the bank should work out a favourable regime for the region and that the region should have its own say about resources such as gas through a Inter-state Natural Gas Committee.
"We shouldn't have our shores, onshores or offshore, where we discover such quantities of gas and other minerals that we have no say in how they are utilised, particularly with regard to us where they are found. We still play not even a shadow of a role, and that time must change, and I think we need to work hard, these are ours."
He used the example of Botswana, which now processes its own diamonds and where the population benefits from the mineral wealth.
"Nobody died before it happened. It is happening, it is normal," he said. "We need to think and think hard, and bring facts and change the manner in which who benefits, and how."
He said minerals shouldn't just belong to those who had the technology to find the minerals.
Zuma took over the chairpersonship of SADC from Swaziland's King Mswati, who praised Zuma in his handover speech. "We are impressed by the tremendous development that has taken place in this country [South Africa]," he said. "We look forward to this president sharing his leadership experiences that will go to the countries in the region to achieve development status."
He called on fellow leaders to give Zuma their unfettered support in his year as SADC chair. The SADC summit is set to close in Pretoria on Sunday.