Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is also chairman of the African Union, arrives at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge in Arusha on Saturday to open the Third China-Africa conference of young and upcoming leaders. Escorting him are the Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Mr Stephen Wassira (left), and CCM Secretary-General Abdulrahman Kinana (right).
Arusha. Some leaders of African independence parties are presiding over the looting of national resources at the expense of public service delivery, according to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
Mr Mugabe, who is also the African Union chairman, said in Arusha on Saturday that some leaders were preoccupied with amassing wealth instead of striving to resolve development challenges to improve the lives of their people. He was speaking at the official opening of the 3rd China-Africa conference of young and upcoming leaders at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge.
Without naming names, President Mugabe said some leaders of parties that have ruled African nations since independence were living in obscene luxury while their people lived in abject poverty, adding that greed and self-centred attitudes cost African countries billions of dollars annually.
Mr Mugabe, who is not known to mince words, said most African countries were struggling with class issues that have led to social tensions and revolt as unemployment among young people rises.
“In some nations, corruption and lack of economic opportunities for the masses amid huge resource exploitation has turned the people against their pre-independence or post-independence leaders.”
The Zimbabwean president showered praise on Tanzania’s founding father, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, saying Mwalimu did not die a rich man, but left a rich legacy for his people that continues to shine to this day. Tanzania would forever remain in Zimbabweans’ hearts as a result of Mwalimu’s selfless dedication to their liberation struggle, President Mugabe told 400 delegates from 43 African countries and China.
Mr Mugabe cautioned aspiring leaders on the continent to be wary of what he said were machinations by neo-colonialists to grab Africa’s resources at the expense of the well-being of future generations.
“Neo-colonialism is all about looting resources...our youth must guard the godsend, particularly land,” President Mugabe said amid deafening applause by delegates.
President Jakaya Kikwete, who showed up briefly at the conference, paid glowing tribute to Mr Mugabe, saying he was Africa’s exemplary statesman.
Mr Mugabe said colonialists were returning to Africa through the back door in the name of investors, non-governmental organisations, and political parties, and urged the new breed of African leaders to be wary of indiscreet forms of slavery.
It was time African governments empowered their youth to exploit resources, he said and challenged African nations to kick out wayward investors.
President Mugabe said some Western countries were uncomfortable with the growing cooperation between Africa and China because they view the Asian powerhouse as a threat. “China has greatly contributed to Africa’s political and socio-economic achievements, and the continent will never hate it,” vowed Mr Mugabe, citing the Tanzania-Zambia railway as one of the milestones resulting from the Africa-China cooperation.