The longest serving leader in the Commonwealth and Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has challenged leaders attending the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Leaders Summit that financial self–sufficiency should be the way forward for the group as the Cotonou Agreement comes to an end in 2020.
While addressing the ACP Leaders Summit in PNG, Mugabe said that development finance has constituted a critical lifeline of the ACP – EU partnership for over 40 years but has regrettably created a typical “donor – recipient” and the reviled dependency syndrome.
“While we are appreciative of such provided financial support, we have continued to receive from our EU partners, it has increasingly become clear that financial self-sufficiency should be our new ‘modus operandi’ as we drive our efforts towards the mobilisation of our resources, aimed at a more robust and beneficial development thrust, prioritising our collective interests as developing countries.
“This Summit should commit itself to gradually weaning the ACP from development aid. Cognisant of the reflections that have already been done by the Council of Ministers on the new funding options for the new organisation.
“Our ACP regions are endowed with a vast array of natural resources – flora and fauna, diamonds, gold, plantium, oil, marine life, land and highly educated citizens, yet we remain on the margins of value chains.
“We cannot continue to be spectators while our primary commodities are driving an economic boom in the North and West,” President Mugabe told ACP Leaders.
Mugabe said the hard lessons learnt from the ACP–EU Partnership as a North-South development model, requires that the ACP’s desire to diversify its forms of cooperation and partnership be pursued within the South – South framework of cooperation.
“The emergence of new powerful economic players such as Brazil, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), and a shift in wealth, has opened up new avenues of co-operation for developing countries in particular the ACP Group of States.
“Fortunately, most, if not all ACP States have, individually or as regions collaborated with these emerging economies, thereby setting the basis for sound transcontinental co-operation
“It is imperative for ACP Group to move swiftly to integrate itself into global arena and safeguard its interests by deepening political dialogue and establishing other viable strategic and mutual beneficial partnership beyond the traditional relationship with the EU,” said President Mugabe.
He said the new ACP needs to concentrate its resources and efforts on clearly defined parameters and domains for sustainable development.
“The new ACP should avoid duplicating activities that are being carried out by other regional and international organisation, which other countries are already party to.
“We believe that focusing on trade, investment, industrialisation, development cooperation, science and technology and research innovation would help ACP to capitalise its numerical strength and geographical spread in promoting equitable and sustainable development for the benefit of our people.
“The fight to eradicate poverty remains protracted , daunting and demanding that we all marshal our actions towards the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030,” said President Mugabe.
He said the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which ACP has negotiated with EU should reinforce, not negate regional integration in the ACP.