‘SA is fail­ing AU be­cause of whites’

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Zim­babwe’s Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe says South Africa is fail­ing to lead the economic devel­op­ment of coun­tries in the African Union (AU) be­cause its econ­omy is in the hands of the white mi­nor­ity.

Speak­ing at a func­tion at­tended by African di­plo­mats sta­tioned in Bei­jing, China, on Mon­day where Sierra Leone am­bas­sador Vic­tor Bockarie Foh and Liberia’s McKin­ley Thomas heaped praise on him, Mu­gabe said South Africa was in a com­pro­mised sit­u­a­tion.

“We would love to see South Africa tak­ing the lead. But the coun­try’s econ­omy is still con­trolled by the white com­mu­nity, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult [for blacks] to take charge.”

His ad­dress took place on his re­cent two-week tour of China to seek funds for Zim­babwe’s ail­ing econ­omy.

In re­sponse, ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe told Voice of Amer­ica’s Stu­dio 7 on Wed­nes­day that South Africa would not “drive whites into the sea” in a man­ner that would look like Zim­babwe’s chaotic black em­pow­er­ment pro­gramme.

He said South Africa would not draw in­spi­ra­tion from Zim­babwe in re­dis­tribut­ing na­tional re­sources.

Last year, in a tele­vised in­ter­view with Dali Tambo, Mu­gabe took a dig at Nel­son Man­dela for be­ing too “friendly” with whites. “Man­dela has gone a bit too far in do­ing good to the non-black com­mu­ni­ties, re­ally in some cases at the ex­pense of blacks,” said Mu­gabe.

Since tak­ing over as chair of the South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) ear­lier this month, Mu­gabe has pushed for South Africa to help other African coun­tries, es­pe­cially those in the re­gion, in­stead of us­ing them as a “dump­ing ground” for sur­plus prod­ucts.

He told jour­nal­ists at the end of the SADC sum­mit: “We also ap­peal to South Africa, which is highly in­dus­tri­alised, to lead us in this, and to work with us and co­op­er­ate with us and not just to re­gard the rest of our coun­tries as open mar­kets for prod­ucts from South Africa.”

Be­fore this ad­dress, Mu­gabe had been let down by South Africa which, with Namibia, had re­fused to sign the Pro­to­col on Trade in Ser­vices. The pro­to­col out­lines gen­eral ex­pec­ta­tions for all state par­ties re­gard­ing the treat­ment of ser­vices and ser­vice sup­pli­ers from other coun­tries. It does not con­tain lib­er­al­i­sa­tion obli­ga­tions, but pro­vides for a man­date to pro­gres­sively ne­go­ti­ate the re­moval of bar­ri­ers to the free move­ment of ser­vices.

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