Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS – President Cyril Ramaphosa, second from left, joins other Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government at the 42nd Ordinary Summit in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, on August 17, 2022. Out going SADC chairperson, President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera of Malawi says Africa is ready to work with the rest of the world as an equal partner and will not let anyone dictate the terms of engagement, the writer says.
By Kizito Sikuka
Africa is ready to work with the rest of the world as an equal partner and will not let anyone dictate the terms of engagement since the Continent has the capacity to fund its own developmental trajectory.
Outgoing chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera of Malawi said this at the 42nd SADC Summit in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“There is no one outside Africa who is coming to build Africa the way we want it to be built. Not the Americans. Not the Europeans. Not the Asians,” President Chakwera said.
“They may give us a road here and there, a stadium or two, a few million dollars that are nothing more than pocket change to them and that is nothing compared to the amounts they give each other as Westerners or Easterners. We need serious resources and there is no one who is going to hand it to us.”
President Chakwera said it was therefore critical for Africans to work together by pooling their own resources to fund their developmental agenda as the Continent is endowed with vast natural resources such as fertile soils and minerals including gold and diamonds.
“For this reason, we must create our own pools of developmental resources. We already have the natural and mineral resources that should be more than enough to finance any projects we need across Africa, and no economic bloc is as endowed with these resources as SADC is.”
He said for this to happen, Africa and SADC in particular must be united since detractors are always ready to pounce on their weaknesses.
“We must get our act together and work together to protect these resources and turn them into the key they are for unlocking our region’s economic potential. If we do not do that, the forces we all know are already in our region from the West and the East will surely succeed in their intentions to steal them from us,” he said.
Chakwera said Africa must not pretend and think that the outside world loves and has the Continent at heart when there is “a long history and track record of theft” from these Western nations.
“In the time of our forefathers, they came here and stole entire nations and human beings from Africa, and now in our time, they have come bearing gifts and loans and if we are not careful, these will be the Trojan horse used to steal from us the riches of our minerals, our fresh water, our human talent, and our fertile land.”
Therefore, it is now time for Africa and its youths to stand up and defend its history and riches.
Failure to do so, means the continent will forever remain underdeveloped, yet it is home to vast natural resources that are used to develop other nations instead of its own citizens.
“We must defend what is ours and make sure that no one takes from us what is ours. If the world wants what we have, they must buy it in a fair trade so that we can use the proceeds to build ourselves new cities, new universities, new infrastructure, new industries, and new programmes that will lift our people out of poverty and meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us, including people with disabilities,” Chakwera said.
“With the resources we have, we refuse to be anyone’s beggar, and with the unity we have, we must refuse to let anyone steal from us or use us to steal from our own people or each other.
“So let’s show and tell the world with one voice that Africa is open for business, but it is not for sale.”
On his tenure as chair of SADC between August 2021 and August 2022, President Chakwera said the region achieved a lot of gains, that need to be maintained and improved.
For example, in the area of peace and security, the region managed to restores relative peace in Mozambique when it deployed the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) in July 2021 to combat instability in northern Mozambique following increased acts of extremism, terrorism and insurgency that have left thousands of people dead or displaced.
The region also undertook a detailed mapping and analysis of selected agro-processing value chains to determine the actual performance in terms of identification of opportunities and constraints of the value chains.
In aquaculture, tilapia value chains were promoted in the member states, especially in Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, which have already adopted the development of the tilapia value chain.
Tanzania has adopted the seaweed value chain, while South Africa has progressed well with the shellfish value chain, and Madagascar on the prawn value chain, with Mauritius on the marine fish value chain.
The 42nd SADC Summit is running under the theme “Promoting industrialisation through agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, and regional value chains for inclusive and resilient economic growth”.
At the summit, President Chakwera handed over the SADC chair to President Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the DRC.
For the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, Namibian President Dr Hage Geingob assumed the chair from his South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The SADC Organ on Politics Defence and Security Co-operation is managed on a Troika basis and is responsible for promoting peace and security in the SADC region.
The SADC Summit Troika and the Organ Troika are separate bodies, and the chairperson of the Organ does not simultaneously hold the chair of Summit, but both positions rotate on an annual basis.
Kizito Sikuka is a researcher and writer with the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC).
The article was first published on www.sardc.net