..wants aid and corrupt free region
Malawi's President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has wound up his tenure as Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) chairperson with a call on the region to cut its dependency on donor aid, make serious efforts to curb corruption and to start to use its natural resources in a more prudent manner.
He added that all the bloc needed was to stay resolute and relentless in its quest towards the fruits of its regional integration efforts.
"On this matter of pulling our own resources together through the private sector to fund our own projects, I must be emphatic," said Chakwera, adding that there is no one outside Africa who can build the region want it done.
"Not the Americans. Not the Europeans. Not the Asians. They may give us a road here and there, a stadium or two, a few million dollars that are nothing more than pocket change to them and that are nothing compared to the amounts they give each other as Westerners or Easterners. We need serious resources here and there is no one who is going to hand it to us," he retorted.
The outgoing SADC chair felt it was high time Africa, SADC in particular, created its own pools of developmental resources to attain any meaningful socio-economic growth.
Explained Chakwera: "We already have the natural and mineral resources that should be more than enough to finance any projects we need across Africa, and no economic bloc is as endowed with these resources as SADC is.
"But we must get our act together and work together to protect these resources and turn them into the key they are for unlocking our region’s economic potential."
Perhaps inspired by the medals of honour SADC presented mostly posthumously at the same event to Pan-African heroes and founders of the bloc, Chakwera also went gloves off when he warned his comrades against what he called forces that have dragged the region back for years on end, saying without getting its act together, SADC would remain poor.
"I know it is not politically correct to say that, but we should not pretend that these nations are not run by governments with a long history and track record of theft.
"In the time of our forefathers, they came here and stole entire nations and human beings from Africa, and now in our time, they have come bearing gifts and loans and if we are not careful, these will be the Trojan horse used to steal from us the riches of our minerals, our fresh water, our human talent, and our fertile land," said the Malawi leader.
He added that time was ripe for Africans to start defending what is theirs and ensure that no external forces take away what belongs to the continent.
"If the world wants what we have, they must buy it in a fair trade so that we can use the proceeds to build ourselves new cities, new universities, new infrastructure, new industries, and new programs that will lift our people out of poverty and meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us, including people with disabilities.
"With the resources we have, we refuse to be anyone’s beggar, and with the unity we have, we must refuse to let anyone steal from us or use us to steal from our own people or each other," he added.
Chakwera reminded the bloc, and the host nation in particular of why it has remained war torn for years.
He temporarily slipped into his clerical robes to effectively deliver his verdict.
He pointed: "The plunder that we have allowed the West to conduct here in the DRC is a sin we need to repent of, resolve, and refuse to see repeated anywhere else in our region. So let’s show and tell the world with one voice that Africa is open for business, but it is not for sale."
He ended his remarks by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to serve as SADC leader before he handed over the mantle to DRC President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, who now leads the bloc for the next 12 mounths.
Malawi took over the SADC leadership role from its neighboring Mozambique; with President Fèlipe Nyusi leading the bloc from August 2020.
As such, the SADC chairship has since moved from a Portuguese-speaking nation in Mozambique, via an Anglophone country in Malawi before it has headed to DRC, which is Francophone.
As he passed over the mantle, Chakwera has wished the incoming SADC Chairperson "the best of luck and robust health as you lead in steering the region to prosperity. Rest assured of my relentless support, my brother."