'SA is failing AU because of whites’

2014-08-31 15:00

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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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