Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has taken a swipe at South Africa for what he says is Pretoria’s failure to open up free trade in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the African Economic Platform in Mauritius, the veteran leader says some countries still wanted to dump their goods in other countries while those affected were battling to sell their goods and services to South Africa.
Mugabe says free trade is important for regional integration. “In the SADC our region South Africa is our big boss because they are more developed than any of us. We have tried to economically think of how we can interact economically and culturally in the deference of the interest of our people. As you heard with the last speaker, the same has been happening in East Africa. It has not been that easy to be in step with each other.”
African Union Deputy Chair Luisa Diogo adds that the continent can only grow if it is united. Diogo says the youth need to play a central role in order to achieve good results through this platform.
“The road ahead is clear as Agenda 2063 provides us with the policy framework to accomplish the purpose which has been created. We have borrowed the keys from our communities on the promise that we unlock opportunities for all.”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Kumar Jugnauth, has called on all African leaders to rely on each other’s strengths to make up for their weaknesses.
Jagnauth says the only way Africa can rise, is if its people work together.
“During these two days, we will have the opportunity to reflect in greater depth on how to boost inter-Africa trade – on the need for more flexible rules of origin on the removal of non-tariff barriers and on the measures that are required to grow on our manufacturing sector. It is important that we work together, to ensure the sustainability of the manufacturing processes and coordinate the various strategies of the production process across the continent.”
The conference which was adopted during the 29th Ordinary Session of the Executive in Rwanda in 2016, is set to boost African business through removing barriers that hamper growth. It’s also expected to address policies that can influence investment attractiveness.