Southern Africa Must Reduce Reliance On Foreign Aid - Mugabe

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - AUGUST 18, 2014

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Sunday urged the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to move away from "over-reliance" on foreign aid.

Mugabe was speaking after taking over the Chairmanship of the 15-member SADC block from Malawi President Joyce Banda at the 34th Ordinary Summit of the Southern African Development Community which was held in Zimbabwe. The Summit was attended by 13 heads of state or government, with Angola and Zambia represented by vice presidents.

Mugabe, who will lead SADC for the next 12 months, said the region must utilise its natural resources such as minerals and land.

The region has the world's largest platinum deposits and supplies of other valuable commodities such as diamonds and gold.

"Our continued over-reliance on the generosity and goodwill of our cooperating partners tends to compromise our ownership and sustainability of our SADC programs. How can we proudly claim SADC to be own organization when close to 60 percent of the programs are externally funded?" he said.

Mugabe also called on countries to drive growth by exporting more finished goods instead of raw materials.

SADC must "wean itself from exporting raw materials and create value chains that will lead to the exportation of finished products," he said.

"Our region has abundant resources, which instead of being sold in raw form at very low prices must be exploited and beneficiated to add value to the products which we export," Mugabe said.

The summit, which ends Monday, is being held under a theme of "economic transformation," which leaders say can be achieved by using the region's vast natural resources.

Photo caption: MOVE AWAY FROM "OVER-RELIANCE" ON FOREIGN AID... Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Sunday urged the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to move away from "over-reliance" on foreign aid.