Zuma echoes Mugabe: says time has come for economic freedom
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma challenged political and business leadership in SA and Zimbabwe to implement and unapologetically capitalise on laws aimed at transforming the economies of the two countries.
Mr Zuma was speaking in Pretoria on the second full day of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s official state visit, which is already said to have the highest attendance of any official visit between the two African countries.
Mr Zuma’s remarks at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria on Thursday morning were in tune with Mr Mugabe’s address at the Union Buildings in which the 91-year-old leader urged African nations to unite for self determination and to grow their collective economies in the global community.
Mr Zuma said while more countries on the African continent had accomplished political freedom, many countries still had majority groups that were subjected to poverty as well as a hyper concentration of wealth among citizens of white or colonist descent.
"If we worked hard to bring political freedom then it is your turn to work hard to bring economic freedom. Africa is the biggest continent of all put together. It has a young population and resources beyond anything. We are now free and skilled. Why can we not change Africa?"
He said SA needed to produce more black industrialists who could produce more finished goods in SA to export. He said since the African National Congress came to political power, its black economic empowerment policies had been heavily criticised as "reverse racism", even though the party considered the laws carefully. His address ended with a standing ovation from business leaders from both countries.
"One day I would be happy to see a bank called Mr Mofokeng Bank. To me the struggle to liberate ourselves economically is a crucial one. We should be as angry about this struggle as we were for the political liberation. It’s urgent, it’s important, it’s correct," he said.
Mr Mugabe said Africans should make resources of both countries their own, so that black Africans can industrialise, hence the indigenisation laws, which his government implemented in Zimbabwe.
"When we got political power we did not immediately control the economy. We did not have the resources. On the African continent, they control us to this day. We haven’t delivered. We took the step because we negotiated it at Lancaster House that land should come into our hands. We took it from Ian Smith," Mr Mugabe said.
Mr Mugabe said at the base of beneficiation, there had to be ownership by the people of both countries if trade, investment and economic development was to benefit the majority of people in both countries and the continent. He said African states should take ownership of mineral resources in their countries, as opposed to the ownership of minerals in Francophone countries by French business.
On Wednesday, Mr Mugabe bemoaned an "unfair" state of affairs at the United Nations Security Council and chided South African media for "tarnishing" the image of Mr Zuma.
He also used Wednesday’s meeting as an opportunity to launch a salvo at the US, Britain and other Western nations, which he said allowed Western countries to suppress African leaders.