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Africa must negotiate as one bloc: Museveni
Posted: Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Herald Reporters

Africa has got the resources and what is needed is for the continent to identify the stimulus to transform its economies, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who arrived in Harare yesterday for a three-day State visit, said.

Speaking at a banquet hosted for him by President Mugabe at State House last night, Mr Museveni said the continent could initiate this transformation without being continuously lectured on cliches such as development, sustainable development and Millennium Development Goals.

He said Zimbabwe and Uganda enjoy good relations despite being on opposite sides in the Democratic Republic of Congo conflict.

"In spite of this little misunderstanding, we have always worked together. I come here to show to you that we are brothers. Historically speaking, we are on the same side; we must work together," he said.

President Museveni noted that Zimbabwe was among some of the Southern African Development Community member states that have understood and supported Uganda’s concern at Sudan’s policies in the southern part of that vast country.

He said Africa would be powerful if it negotiates as a bloc rather than as individual countries on global, economic and trade issues.

"You cannot get what you want in the world if you cannot negotiate. You have to issue mutual threats and say: ‘Do this for me so that I can do this for you’.

"But Uganda is Uganda. It cannot negotiate with the United States. I cannot go to the United States and say do this for Uganda. I can only say: ‘Could you please do this for me?’ and that is not negotiating — that is petitioning.

"But Africa can negotiate if it gets together and say: ‘This is our stance’," he said.

President Museveni also spoke about the US and Britain’s arrogance in international issues.

He gave the example of the Lockerbie bombing, saying for a long time Africa was telling the West that it was better for the suspects to be tried in a neutral country. The West’s arrogance, he said, was so much that they would not listen to opinions by African leaders.

"We used to be told by the West that: ‘How can you talk about international affairs that concentrate on asking for what to eat and do not talk about international affairs? It’s not your area’."

President Museveni said the African view on the matter finally prevailed after the West accepted that the Lockerbie bombing suspects be tried in the Netherlands.

He told guests at the dinner that he used to support the US on the Iraq issue believing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction until recently when it was proved otherwise.

Speaking at the same occasion, President Mugabe said Uganda and Zimbabwe enjoy good relations and as members of the African Union and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the rapport continued despite the conflict in the DRC where the two countries were on opposing sides.

He said with the DRC conflict now behind, the challenge was now to have a stronger bond in the region to promote economic integration and co-operation.

"We should remain vigilant as we wage our struggle for economic independence," Cde Mugabe said, calling on Africa to resist new forms of imperialism which were emerging in the form of unipolarism under which the US and Britain sought to dominate the world.

Cde Mugabe said although at present there was little trade between Uganda and Zimbabwe, there was huge potential for economic co-operation between the two countries. He said co-operation could also be extended to the health sector, including the fight against HIV/Aids.

He said Uganda used to buy rail wagons from Zimbabwe and that this could be resumed.

President Mugabe said Zimbabwe had made many enemies in the West for embarking on land reforms, but would not be deterred because the programme had positioned indigenous Zimbabweans at the centre of economic activity in the country.

Uganda and Zimbabwe shared many same views on economic, political and security issues, the President said. He hailed Uganda’s peace efforts in the Sudan through the Inter-governmental Authority on Development.

Cde Mugabe said Zimbabwe noted with concern the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region in Sudan and hoped peace would be achieved soon through the African Union and other regional initiatives.

He also hailed Uganda for its contributions to the peace process in Burundi and commended it for the prominent role it was playing in East Africa and the Great Lakes region, where it has called for an international conference to discuss problems there. The conference is expected to be held next month.

President Mugabe also paid tribute to Uganda for fighting for peace in its own country where its security forces have been scoring successes against the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army.

Cde Mugabe expressed concern about the continued resistance by some powerful Western countries for reform of the United Nations Security Council. He said the Security Council must be expanded by including African and other developing countries so that it is more representative.

He said the growing unilateralism in global affairs was unfortunate. The recent statement by UN Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan that the invasion of Iraq was illegal had vindicated "those of us who have always spoken against unilateralism".

Earlier in the day, the two leaders held talks at State House focusing on trade and bilateral issues.

Mr Museveni told journalists after the talks that Zimbabwe and Uganda should develop their economies through different areas of co-operation.

"We had a very useful discussion and we want to develop our economies," the Ugandan leader said.

Mr Museveni said his country was rich in iron ore so it was looking for coking coal and pharmaceutical products from Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe said they discussed how the two countries could add value to their products.

He said co-operation with Uganda was not about trade only, but also about looking at how the two countries could have joint ventures in different fields.

"We have been deliberating in areas of co-operation and there are lots of them," he said.

Four ministers from Uganda flew into Harare on Sunday night ahead of President Museveni’s arrival.

They are Professor Edward Rugumayo, the Minister of Tourism, Trade and Industry; the Minister of State for Finance in Charge of Investments, Mr Sam Karesu; the Minister of State Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Kibirige Sebonyo; and Mr Augustine Nshimye, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Regional Co-operation).

Hundreds of people, who included Zanu-PF supporters, diplomats and Ugandans resident in Zimbabwe, thronged Harare International Airport to welcome the Ugandan leader.

His jet touched down at 10.45am and he was received by President Mugabe, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Cde Stan Mudenge, several Cabinet ministers and other high-ranking Government officials.

The Ugandan leader stepped down the plane clutching his trademark hat in his hand.

Soon after his welcome by Cde Mugabe, the two leaders took to the podium and there was a 21-gun salute by the Presidential Guard amid cheers and ululation from the crowd that was waving Zimbabwean and Ugandan flags.

Moments later, President Museveni inspected the Presidential Guard accompanied by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga.

Cde Mugabe introduced him to several Cabinet ministers and other officials.

From the airport, the Ugandan leader and the President headed for the Presidential Guest House at Zimbabwe House from where they proceeded to State House for their meeting.

The Ugandan delegation is particularly interested to learn from Zimbabwe’s agricultural and pharmaceutical industries.

The Ugandan leader is the current chairman of Comesa, a 19-member regional grouping promoting trade and investment in East and Southern Africa.

Uganda hosted the ninth Comesa summit in Kampala in June where leaders called on the regional bloc to strive to export finished goods and demand equal access to world markets.

Zimbabwe and Uganda have, over the years, maintained good relations as they are both members of Comesa.

Comesa is Africa’s largest regional economic community, encompassing 19 nations and 380 million consumers. The market’s combined Gross Domestic product (GDP) is more than US$70 billion.

Comesa initiatives include harmonising rules of origin, expediting cross-border transportation, creating a common investment area, streamlining public procurement methods. There are plans to launch a customs union by next year.

President Museveni later in the day toured Varichem, a medicinal drug manufacturing company in the Willowvale industrial area, and Dairibord Zimbabwe’s milk and milk products factory in Workington.

The Minister of Industry and International Trade, Cde Samuel Mumbengegwi, said the visits to the two companies were aimed at according Mr Museveni an opportunity to observe and appreciate what indigenous-owned companies can do.

Mr Museveni is today expected to tour the National Heroes Acre and then visit some farming areas.

Cde Mumbengegwi said Mr Museveni would, after the various tours, discuss with his Zimbabwean counterpart possible areas of co-operation.

The minister said the Government wanted Mr Museveni to understand the country’s victories under the land reform programme and the country’s black empowerment drive.

Several Cabinet ministers, including the Minister of Health and Child Welfare Cde David Parirenyatwa; the Minister of Foreign Affairs Cde Stan Mudenge; and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cde Joseph Made, accompanied Mr Museveni on the tour.

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