‘We carry the majority’

President Mugabe

President Mugabe

This is the full address by President Mugabe during the official opening of the Asia-Africa Summit at Jakarta Convention Centre yesterday. I REGARD it as a great honour for me in both my personal capacity and in my capacity as chairman of the African Union to co-chair this session with you.

It is a tremendous honour indeed to Africa, our great continent. I wish to join colleagues and other participants at this meeting which is being held on the 10th anniversary of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP), and expressing our own appreciation to the Indonesian government and people for hosting us, and for the very warm welcome accorded us.

Our presence here is evidence of our shared desire and common commitment to expand, deepen and solidify the new partnership between Africa and Asia.

A new partnership that we agreed upon 10 years ago.

We have to admit though that we need to put in much more extra effort into this new partnership if we are to attain its ambitions.

For a start, we have to adhere to the operational framework that we are going to adopt at this meeting, in addition we have to go beyond mere interactions.

Important and essential as they may be to the vitality of the new partnership to the stage where we actually implement projects of co-operation.

Without this our partnership remains ritualistic, and will serve no particularly compelling purpose.

The countries of our two regions have awakened to the fact that we should no longer be consigned to the role of exporters of primary goods and importers of finished goods. A role that has historically been assigned to us by the colonial powers and starting from the days of colonialism.

In Asia you have made much more remarkable progress in transforming your economies to producers of manufactured and processed goods than we have in Africa.

That wave of economic transformation anchored on adding value to and beneficiating our divinely endowed natural resources is also sweeping across Africa and taking root in many countries. In Zimbabwe we are determined that ownership of our natural resources is key and essential to the economic transformation that we wish to achieve. A transformation based on beneficiation of our indigenously controlled natural resources.

We are convinced that in the framework of the NAASP, there is room for sustainable and mutually beneficial practical co-operation between ourselves and our Asian friends.

Beyond information sharing and technical co-operation programmes we would want to establish joint ventures between ourselves, joint ventures that can produce not just more products but more products of better quality. Such joint industrial ventures would also be taken in an integrated manner that benefits not only Zimbabwe or Africa but also other countries in the region with whom we enjoy many synergies and complementarities.

One of the critical factors in ensuring the success and sustainability of the envisaged economic transformation and integration in Africa is the development of integrated and modernised infrastructure on the continent.

In recognition of this the African Union has adopted a programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) composed at present of 16 inter-regional projects. These projects are mainly in the energy and in the rail and road transport sectors.

The programme offers yet other immense opportunities and possibilities for concrete practical co-operation between our regions

The NEPAD agency is responsible for co-ordinating the planning and execution of the PIDA. The important contribution of the African private sector in the improvement of the infrastructure on the continent has long been acknowledged, what has was lacking is identifying ways to mobilise the engagement of the private sector in this endeavour.

I am informed that within two months a continental business network will be launched in Africa. It will be led by the African private sector with the chief mission of driving investment for PIDA projects through, among others, improved project preparation and implementation.

As a network that will encompass both African and global business and financial bodies, it is our hope that Asia private sector members will participate in the network and team up with their African counterparts in bringing better, more modern and efficient infrastructure on the continent.

A more productive and better connected Africa will be a stronger partner for and with Asia.

African and Asian countries are a formidable force in numerical terms at a multilateral level yet that numerical strength counts for little when it comes to the running and control of the multilateral system.

In the United Nations, the voice of the five permanent members of the Security Council carries more weight than that of the rest of us, the majority. And I am glad Your Excellency made reference to the imbalance in the United Nations system in your own speech.

Our calls for a reform of the Security Council review have yielded nothing so far, we must remobilise for this success, one of the essential ingredients in doing so will be strengthening of our unity in continuing to fight for a United Nations that recognises all its members as equal not only in terms of the Charter but more crucially in practice. And this Conference at this stage, with Bandung 1955 behind us, and our basis should offer us greater determination to fight for justice at the United Nations. Our unity is founded on the enduring 10 principles of the Bandung Conference and that unity cannot thrive of itself, we have to act it out by being faithful to and being advocates of the principles in our actions and in our pronouncements.

I am glad that at the end of this Summit we will adopt a declaration on reinvigorating our new partnerships. Let us reinvigorate it in solidarity, in friendship and in concrete co-operation for the greater benefit of the peoples of our two regions. Regions that are linked by history and geography, and enriched by the diversity of our cultures.

And regions really that carry the majority of the people of this world.