Robert Mugabe slams ‘giant’ SA – again

2015-05-20 18:32
Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe (Elizabeth Sejake/City Press)

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Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe has again complained that South Africa acts like a giant in the region, and does not tolerate competition from businesses outside its borders.

“Right now some of us are complaining about the bigness of South Africa, a giant establishing itself,” he told journalists in Gaborone, Botswana, following a “familiarisation visit” to the Southern African Development Community headquarters there today.

Mugabe said this issue was discussed at last month’s SADC meeting on its trade protocol in Harare.

“That is what we discussed at the meeting, that if we are trying to establish our industries, they are blocked.”

He said a Zimbabwean pharmaceutical company was trying to export to South Africa, but there were difficulties.

“We produce some drugs, and they are in demand, and we want to send them to South Africa. Then those officials in trade say: ‘We will only receive them if they come by air.’ We say it is much more costly to send them to South Africa by air. We have planes, yes, but the planes are expensive, we can send them by road, but they say no.

“You see, that is contrary to free-trade principles, there are lots of things we still have to discuss among us,” he said.

He said the rest of the SADC region, for instance Botswana, Malawi and Tanzania, imported South African products such as beer.

“It is a South African drink, it is a one-way thing,” he said.

Mugabe said sometimes it had nothing to do with the government, because often it was companies who feared the competition from Zimbabwe.

Mugabe conceded that SADC had been slow at getting people and trade moving between its countries.

At a SADC meeting in August, which was attended by President Jacob Zuma, Mugabe took a stab at South Africa for not signing the regional trade protocol, and also accused South Africa of one-way trade.

Mugabe paid a state visit to South Africa recently with a trade and business delegation. Issues such as Zimbabwe’s indigenisation policy, which forced foreign companies to cede 51% of its business to Zimbabweans, were discussed.

When asked about the legacy he intended to leave behind as SADC’s chairperson, Mugabe said he was an individual who was in this position only for a year, and countries acted together in crises.

“That is how we do it in SADC, so there is nothing that is a typical Mugabe thing. It is SADC, SADC, SADC,” he said.
Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  sadc

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