Kuda Bwititi in ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
THE African Union’s election of Zimbabwe into the organisation’s Peace and Security Council is an honour that the country should be proud of, at a time when there are growing concerns over insurgencies in a number of countries, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Speaking to Zimbabwean journalists after holding bilateral talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, and a Special Envoy of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the 35th African Union Heads of State Ordinary Assembly that ended yesterday, President Mnangagwa said he was grateful for Zimbabwe’s participation in the 15-member PSC, which plays a pivotal role in conflict resolution on the continent.
In 2019, Zimbabwe was also a member of the PSC and the quick return to Council is a vote of confidence in the country’s capacity to help resolve conflicts.
Said the President: “This is really an honour to Zimbabwe. Member States feel that we have capacity to contribute towards peace on the continent. I think we should be grateful, to us as Zimbabweans, that we have earned the respect from the AU.
“I feel very proud as President of Zimbabwe that we have been accorded this opportunity which rarely has ever happened to any member state.”
President Mnangagwa said insurgencies that have occurred in five states on the continent should be thoroughly investigated.
“The issue of coups and attempted coups, five of them in the same region, is a worry to the AU,” he said. “First and foremost, we are interrogating whether these are innocent coups or whether there is a hand behind them.
“What is it that we should do to forestall any future coups? What is it that the AU has not done to make sure that the African states do not have persons that are attracted to doing unconstitutional activities.
“So, we are dealing with that and it’s an issue that as the AU, we are worried about. We are saying Ecowas (the West African regional grouping) should stand to the challenge in relation to what has happened. But as the rest of Africa we must make sure that we condemn drastically issues of coups on our continent.”
President Mnangagwa said his meeting with Prime Minister Ahmed touched on solutions that have been implemented by both countries to build domestic resources and reduce foreign dependency.
The two leaders had a similar conversation when they met in Japan in 2019, and it was encouraging that both countries have made progress to build their economies and avoid pandering to external forces.
“We have to say, what resources do we have in order to survive and the primary resource that God gave us is the land,” said President Mnangagwa. “And the land must give us life and production. Under the land there are minerals that we must exploit and there are the natural sites like the Victoria Falls. With these three, we will never go out of Zimbabwe.
“We till our land in Zimbabwe without leaving, we attract tourists without leaving and we mine our minerals without leaving. He said that sunk in him and that is what he is doing.
“He (Prime Minister Ahmed) said: ‘I am doing better than you; look at how much I have transformed Addis. It is on that basis that we are reducing our dependency on foreign loans, foreign lines of credit, but focusing on our domestic resources. We are now in the second year in which Ethiopia has achieved food sufficiency’.”
“Ethiopia has a population of more than 100 million, but they are producing surplus,” said the President.
On his meeting with President Putin’s Special Envoy, Mr Mikhael Bogdanov, President Mnangagwa said the leader of the Russian Federation was seeking Zimbabwe’s support for Russia’s bid to host the 2030 World Trade Expo.
“My good friend President Putin is persuading Zimbabwe to support the bid by the Russian Federation to host the next World Trade Expo,” he said.
“There are other countries that also want to host it, countries like Ukraine, South Korea, Italy and Saudi Arabia. I have assured him that Zimbabwe will support the bid by the Russian Federation.”
President Mnangagwa said the AU summit had discussed Israel’s position as an observer of the AU.
“The subject came and the Chairperson, President Macky Sall of Senegal, ruled that there will be no debate because it had been determined at the Executive Council at the Commission of the AU,” he said. “President Sall said the summit is going to appoint a team of Heads of State to interrogate the issue and make a recommendation to the summit. What are on the table now are the results from officials.”
On Covid-19, President Mnangagwa said the AU planned to set up a pharmaceutical plant to manufacture medicines on the continent to avoid over reliance on the West.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries canvassing to host the AU centre for manufacturing medicines.
“First, as AU we have recognised that the coronavirus pandemic has made us aware that as Africa we are at a disadvantage. The First World first produce for themselves and we had to come after they had supplied their own needs, so we have decided as a continent that we support each other so that we produce the vaccines.”