Sironko, Uganda (New Ziana) -The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) will enable member states to negotiate effectively with powerful nations which previously exploited them through unfair trade deals, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Wednesday.
He was speaking during commemorations to mark the country’s 57th independence anniversary.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was invited as a special guest at the commemorations.
“It is like when a small man negotiates with a big man,” he said, referring to past trade talks between developed countries and smaller developing nations which always ended skewed in favour of the former.
He said in addition to facilitating intra-Africa trade, AfCTA offered member states bargaining muscle in trade negotiations with Western countries which always sought to conclude exploitative economic deals with weaker nations.
President Museveni cited the case of Zimbabwe which he said has been reeling under illegal sanctions imposed by the West to punish it for its
“When the United States puts sanctions on China, China puts sanctions on the United States, unlike Zimbabwe which is like a small (man) who is being hit and cannot hit back,” he said.
President Museveni said Africans should also be patriotic, Pan-Africanist and democratic to be able to turn around their economies.
He said through patriotism, Uganda had been able to build a strong national army for the first time in 500 years.
Africans should also stop believing that challenges they faced were caused by colonialism, President Museveni said.
“Uganda was there before colonialism,” he said.
Instead, he said, African countries should address issues such as transport, electricity and high interest rates to be able to transform their economies.
The three enablers – transport infrastructure, electricity and interest rates – push up costs of production, making goods expensive and not competitive, he said.
At the start of the commemorations, held in a local stadium here, President
Museveni requested guests to stand up and observe a minute’s silence in honor of Zimbabwe’s late President Robert Mugabe who died last month.
He said former President Mugabe was a Pan-African icon who played an important role in liberating Zimbabwe and the African continent.
Speaking at the same occasion, President Mnangagwa said Uganda’s attainment
of independence in 1963 inspired Zimbabweans to also fight for theirs.
“We believed (after seeing Uganda gain independence) that it was possible to attain independence,” he said.
He said Zimbabwe was keen to consolidate and strengthen relations with Uganda and other African countries.
“We would like to emulate what you are doing here where you are developing in unity and peace,” he said.