In his opening speech at the Connect Africa Symposium in Bulawayo on Wednesday, Chiwenga stated that Africa should safeguard its interests and position in the unfolding global drama.
“We are no one’s underdog and we should not be drawn into foreign wars as proxies of any power or combatant,” he said.
The comments by the revered Retired Army General come at a time when Western nations have urged African countries to support Ukraine and denounce Russia in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Chiwenga stressed that Africa has its own challenges to face and resolve.
“Gone are the days when foreign powers come to our meetings and try to override our own agendas. No. The agenda must be written by Africans for Africans. We see repeated attempts of forcing Africa into answering to issues that are peripheral to its interests,” he said.
Chiwenga also highlighted the need for African countries to assess partnerships based on how well they serve them now and in the future.
“We must put our foot down as a continent, look to ourselves and assess partnerships for how well they serve us now and in future. That is the Africa we want and seek to build,” he added.
Wamkele Mene, Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretary-general, also emphasized the importance of being competitive and taking advantage of AfCTA to grow African economies.
He pointed out that Africa accounts for only 3% of the world’s gross domestic product.
Chiwenga’s speech resonated with many attendees at the symposium. Zimbabwean businessman, Ian Chinouya, expressed his agreement with the VP’s sentiments.
“Africa needs to be independent in its decision-making and not just follow other nations. We need to focus on our own interests and needs,” he said.
Chiwenga’s comments signal a shift towards Africa taking control of its own agenda and not being swayed by external forces.
As African countries continue to work towards economic growth, it is crucial that they remain focused on their interests and work towards building partnerships that benefit them.