President Mugabe, who also took advantage of the official opening of the SADC summit to carpet the Western powers for interference in African elections, said the region should only court donors that have a good track record.
The Zimbabwean leader, who takes over the SADC mantle at a time when the regional body has been tasked to ensure beneficiation of natural resources and value addition, said he will focus on interventions that will improve the well-being of the people.
He lauded the ongoing review of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), and counselled the regional body against being tempted to introduce too many programmes that they cannot fund from their own resources.
“Our over-dependence on co-operating partners tends to affect ownership and sustainability of SADC programmes. How can we claim to own SADC when 60 percent of programmes are externally funded?” President Mugabe said.
He said the review of the RISDP (2015-2029) must result in fewer and sustainable programmes that member states will be able to fund from their own resources.
The RISDP is a blueprint for development and regional integration.
Vice-President Guy Scott is representing Zambia at the SADC Summit, whose theme is: “SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition.”
Dr Scott, with other regional leaders, notably President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Joseph Kabila (Democratic Republic of Congo ), Armando Guebuza (Mozambique), Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania), Peter Mutharika (Malawi) and Hifikepunye Pohamba (Namibia), among others, attended a State banquet hosted by President Mugabe in the resort town.
In his acceptance of the SADC chairmanship, President Mugabe said in line with the summit theme, member states need to industrialise to get real value for their resources and also create employment for their people.
He said the natural resource-endowed SADC must also wean itself from exporting raw materials to get real benefits of its natural resources.
On congratulating Malawi and South Africa on elections that he said met the principles espoused by SADC and Madagascar for the return to peace, President Mugabe said Africa should be left to manage its own affairs without interference.
“We should supervise our elections because we want true decisions and not skewed decisions, just like we did in Zimbabwe. We in Africa know what the truth is, there are people who think the truth can become untruth.
“Those are people we don’t want. I don’t know why they come,” he said as he was given a rousing applause.
Outgoing SADC chairperson and Malawi President Professor Peter Mutharika committed himself to promoting the ideals of the regional body.
“We want to translate the dreams of SADC into tangible action. My Government will play its role to ensure that the SADC regional agenda is implemented,” Prof Mutharika said.