We publish here the full speech delivered by President Mugabe at the 60th Anniversary commemoration of the 1955 Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, yesterday.
Your Excellency, Mr Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Distinguished invited guests,
Ladies and Gentleman,
Comrades and Friends.
On behalf of my own country and the African Union, I have the honour and privilege to address this commemorative anniversary meeting of the Asia-African Conference, held in this very place, six years ago. We gather here today, not to reminisce, but to forge ahead, building on the very solid foundation of our illustrious predecessors.
The Bandung Principles are timeless, they exude visionary foresight and revolution in inter-state relations. That vision still holds today.
The agenda of Bandung 1955 is a contemporary agenda, which promotes world peace, and engenders equality among nations and races, and deepens economic and cultural co-operation among the countries of Asia and Africa. It also aims to save us from the threat of annihilation from the use of nuclear weapons.
These, Excellencies, are matters that preoccupy us today as they did for those who assembled here in 1955.
When the African and Asian leaders met here six years ago, they were driven by the ambition to usher in a new world order. A new world order based on peace, equality and justice. A new world order that gives voice and attends to the aspirations and interests of previously colonised peoples and countries. That envisioned new world order has remained elusive.
The world continues to be dominated by Western-designed institutions, mostly founded in the post-1945 era and by Western-inspired doctrines and ideologies of domination and exploitation. Much worse, the Bandung Declaration that “all nations should have the right to freely choose their own political and economic systems and their own way of life” in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations, is wantonly violated, as regime change has become the favoured tool of statecraft by some Western countries. Many among us here present can attest to the incessant assaults on our countries’ sovereignty and on our national economies by the godfathers of the regime change agenda.
Our countries have, collectively and individually, historically demonstrated an abiding faith in and commitment to multilateralism.
This, in spite of the fact that we have not had, and we continue not to have, adequate and commensurate representation in the multilateral systems’ constituent institutions.
In 1955, our predecessors recognised the inadequacy of our countries’ representation notably in the UN Security Council. Since then, we have consistently clamoured for our rightful place at the table through a reform of the UN Security Council and the strengthening of the most representative body of the United Nations, the General Assembly.
Equally consistently, our demands have been resisted through all manner of subterfuge and procedural manoeuvrings. The UN is turning 70 this year. For how long shall we, or must we, wait for the fulfilment of our just demand for the democratisation of this institution?
I believe time has come for us to revive and resuscitate the spirit of Bandung in order to more effectively push the agenda of the South on all fronts.
Time has also come to look at alternatives, to consider other options of securing our place in global affairs. We see evidence of this in the recent decisions taken, for instance, by the BRICS countries, three of whom are part of our gathering here, in establishing a development bank. Or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank championed by China. These are the examples of the way and manner we ought to forge ahead if the voice of the South is going to matter in the international arena.
Over the past 30 years, trade flows between our two regions have increased rapidly, but in a highly imbalanced way. In 2013, for example, Asia accounted for 26 percent of Africa’s trade flows whereas Africa accounted for a mere 3 percent of Asia’s flows. One of the major factors accounting for this skewed trade imbalance is that Africa-Asia trade patterns have replicated those between Africa and the developed countries. In both cases, Africa’s exports are dominated by raw commodities while its imports are dominated by manufactured goods. We can, and must, correct this unsustainable situation.
African countries have thus decided to transform their economies through resource-based value-added industrialisation programmes and projects.
This economic transformation agenda offers immense opportunities for deeper co-operation between our regions through investments and technology transfers, among other exchanges. We thus invite our friends in Asia, many of who already have a significant presence in many of our countries, to partner in our industrialisation projects through the beneficiation of and value addition to the natural resources so abundantly available throughout the African continent. African countries have also decided to enhance the process of integration on the continent, through constructing, rehabilitating and improving transport, energy, telecommunications and other infrastructure.
This offers another window of possibilities for greater co-operation between our two regions.
Excellencies, Afro-Asia solidarity will be devoid of character and substance if it does not express and manifest itself in greater understanding between the two regions’ people. We must, therefore, put in place programmes that will bring our peoples in direct contact through cultural, sports, academic, business and other exchanges.
The value of our partnership should not be measured purely in trade or monetary terms but more importantly, in the solidarity and friendship of our peoples. It is that friendship and solidarity that stood us in good stead during the struggles against colonialism, it is that friendship and solidarity that will count in our struggle against hegemonic globalisation and domination.
It is in this spirit of solidarity that we are deeply, deeply concerned by the continued plight and suffering of the people of Palestine. Africa remains solidly in support of the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to justice, to independence, and to their own state. We should continue our support of and solidarity with the Palestinian people in their quest for statehood.
Without concrete actions, the Bandung flame will extinguish. We have, on this occasion, agreed to strengthen our mechanisms for interaction and co-operation. Let us faithfully implement those decisions for the benefit of our people, our countries, and our two regions.
Let me conclude by once again thanking the government and people of Indonesia for the friendship and hospitality we have enjoyed during our stay in your marvellous country. We will remain forever grateful to you.