President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe speaking at the 60th anniversary conference of the United Nations Food Programme., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
President Mugabe urges Comesa to industrialise
Sunday, 16 October 2011 01:00
By Caesar Zvayi, recently in Lilongwe, Malawi
PRESIDENT MUGABE has urged Comesa member states to transform from being mere producers of raw materials by harnessing science and technology to process the raw materials or manufacture finished products to get maximum value from their natural resource endowments.
The President, who was addressing the main plenary on Friday evening, said the summit had convened at a time of great concern over the level of development in the Comesa bloc with many countries still preoccupied with plans, projects and policies for development at the expense of implementation.
Many of the economies in the region, President Mugabe said, focused on primary extractive industries that cry for value-addition through harnessing science and technology development.
He took the opportunity to apprise the meeting on Zimbabwe’s indigenisation and economic empowerment programme, saying all foreign-owned corporations were duty-bound to have 51 percent indigenous ownership and those who did not want to be bound by the law were free to ship out.
He encouraged the member states to insist on the beneficiation of their mineral resources and ensure that indigenous people have total control and ownership of their resources as the country has done through the indigenisation law.
‘‘You begin to worry that from the ’60s to this day, we have not found ways of adding value to them so that we can be the main producers of the more valuable products that come out of these raw materials. This is why I take it that was the reason why we found it necessary to address this theme of science and technology,’’ President Mugabe said.
The 15th Comesa Summit, which ended yesterday, was held under the theme, ‘‘Harnessing Science and Technology for Development’’. Africa, the President said, produces all conceivable raw materials, but exports them in raw form to the West from which it imports expensive finished products.
He cited the example of Zimbabwean, Tanzanian and Malawian tea, which, he said, was being branded as English tea by British firms in Dubai for sale the world over yet the African countries could brand it and get maximum returns from it.
‘‘Malawi has been producing tea for a long time, so have we; cotton for a long time, so have we. We have had processes that add value; spinning, weaving, but it should not stop there.
“The machines that do the weaving and spinning we have to import, why can’t our people make them? Haven’t we got the resources?
“We produce iron, Zimbabwe does, South Africa does. Probably other countries also produce iron. But where does our iron go? We export it, as ore, in some cases.’’ The President urged member states to work together in all areas of endeavour, saying there was power in numbers.
‘‘The products of our education, science and technology, we can share, pool our resources and see what development we can make.
“It’s one thing to work on a national basis to try to produce what you can produce alone, but when you are two, three, that’s in our African parlance, two hands, two minds . . . that gives you greater scope for development, greater scope for knowledge.’’
President Mugabe had earlier on signed the African Trade Insurance Agreement, a Comesa initiative supported by the World Bank, aimed at insuring trade within the region.
The agreement seeks to facilitate private sector-led trade flows, investment and productive activities through the provision of insurance, co-insurance and reinsurance, financial instruments and related services. It is open to all African Union members, corporate and regional body members.
The Sunday Mail