AFRICANGLOBE – Japan is warming up to Zimbabwe after slightly over a decade of frosty relations, President Mugabe said yesterday. The President, who is attending the United Nations 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction here, said Japan had shown a regrettable tendency to “listen to the West” over its foreign policy on Zimbabwe, in the process poisoning relations between the two countries.
“We’ve a Look East Policy that means deal with Japan, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia and co-operate together. We’ve some Japanese level of co-operation, but it could be better and I think Japan also tended to listen to the West as it criticised us and naturally tended to withdraw, but it’s only now that it’s warming up again towards us,” President Mugabe told a Japanese TV station following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.
“We’ve been dealing with China openly, India quite openly, so why not other people?”
President Mugabe granted an interview to the TV station on the sidelines of the conference.
Even as he spoke about Zimbabwe-Japan relations, the President said Western countries that had demonised Zimbabwe over the last 15 years after the country began a programme of land reclamation from descendants of white colonial settlers were now back-pedalling furiously.
“Western countries didn’t want to deal with us. It’s only now that they are coming forward, but we won’t go down and kneel,” he insisted.
He said Zimbabwe has natural resources like gold, diamonds, platinum and coal among other minerals that needed capital to convert into wealth. But Zimbabwe, he emphasised, would rather deal only with allies who share the same vision.
“We don’t want a system that reduces us to labourers, no, we want to be participants in our economy; to be owners of our economy, to assert that the natural resources are ours, they’re our worth and they should be developed with assistance yes, but assistance that does not reduce us into semi-slavery,” he said.
The African Union and Sadc chairperson said Africa was in talks with the West to fight terrorism in Africa – but Africa feels it is better off fighting its own battles without Europe and the United States seeking a domineering role.
“Of course there are talks (on fighting terrorism), but those (EU and US) want to dominate us and that’s why we say we’re better off,” the President said.
He added: “They want things done their own way. They’re the cause of many of our political troubles, and they want regime change in several African countries. They want regime change in Zimbabwe, they want me to go, them and not my people.
“We’ve got to build resistance against them; they use the NGOs to subvert our systems, they use some people they buy amongst us who become disloyal. But we’ve to be organised politically and in terms of the security.”
Turning to the on-going conference, President Mugabe said disasters visit all continents hence it is important for countries to exchange views on how to reduce the risk.
The local television was particularly interested in the President explaining what he meant when he said violent conflict in some parts of Africa and Asia needed to be included as an agenda in the conference.
“Terrorism, which affects Africa now, beginning with the eastern side where we have Al Shabaab operating in Somalia,” he explained. “Even there we have groups of pirates, piracy has become the order of the day for some organisations in Somalia. When you come up north, then you have, I don’t know whether this is born of Al Qaeda, but they say no they are not born out of Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, it says it’s the child of Isis, both quite dangerous.
“When it strikes, it’s either the whole village, school and children swept away and that has not got a counter yet, although some African countries are putting themselves together – Chad, Cameroon etc. joining forces with Nigeria, we welcome that,” said President Mugabe.
He said regional bodies and the AU have also discussed about threats to security and passed resolutions on terrorism.
“We urge regions to strengthen their security. In Sadc, which I think is the best organised regional organisation in Africa, we’ve an organ on Politics, Defence and Security which runs as part of Sadc to ensure that our defence forces are in order and they defend our territories and ensure that our security is not threatened,” said President Mugabe.
By: Nduduzo Tshuma