By Spy Uganda
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni continues to emphasize regional integration among African states in order to create a bigger market for businesses on the continent to thrive.
While meeting a delegation from South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) at State House Entebbe led by the political party’s Treasurer General, Dr. Gwen Ramokgopa on Monday 24th, July 2023, the President said that Africa’s small, disintegrated economies can do so little in terms of trade and investment, adding that Partner States need to integrate as a matter of survival to create bigger markets.
“We have got the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) but they have got a lot of bottlenecks; protectionism, border delays and all that. The issue of the African common market is a matter of survival if we don’t want to be like Latin America,” President Museveni said, adding that it is unfortunate that South America, with all its natural resources more than the United States is still disorganized economically and Africa should be very careful if they don’t watch out.
“I have actually asked that question; are we trying to build a Latin America in Africa? Or a United States of Africa in Africa? If you want to be Latin America, then we shall build it. You will see,” H.E Museveni stressed.
The President who is also the National Chairman of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party told the guests that Uganda has since diversified its economy from the 3C’s- coffee, cotton and copper and the 3T’s- tobacco, tourism and tea which the country depended on during the colonial times.
“This was a small island of modernity, surrounded by a sea of backwardness and yet the land was with the people but not developed. We are now saying; in order to jump from non-monetary economy to monetary economy, everybody must work for both the stomach and the pocket,” H.E Museveni stressed.
Adding value to the agricultural raw materials and minerals is another strategy he said Africa must adopt if prosperity is to happen, mentioning coffee which should uplift Africa to modernity, but the cash crop is poorly managed.
“Germany earns 6.5 billion dollars and the whole of Africa earns only 2.5 billion dollars. Why? Because when the coffee is taken raw from here, it is roasted and packaged from there. So, that is the second battle now,” the President noted.
He further added that for those battles to go on, Africa must deal with the issue of the market.
“If I produce, who buys? Uganda has only 46 million people but that market is not big enough. That’s why we have to deal with regional integration for the African market. We can quickly become a first world country,” H.E Museveni said.
President Museveni who said he recruited himself into the ANC party in 1967 had to fight together with others, “because although we already had independence in 1971, the leaders who were coming in and going out were off the point! They were only emphasizing politics of identity, tribe, religion and gender chauvinism”.
ANC’s Treasurer General, Dr. Gwen Ramokgopa who led a three-people delegation extended greetings from President Cyril Ramaphosa and the people of South Africa. She praised President Museveni for providing refuge to the anti-apartheid freedom fighters at Kaweweta where they trained, planned, and launched attacks against the white racist regime in South Africa from 1989 to 1993.
Dr. Ramokgopa informed President Museveni about their visit to Oliver Tambo Leadership School in Kaweweta, Nakaseke district describing their visit as inspirational and key in strengthening the historical ties between the ANC and NRM.
“We are greatly honoured, inspired and indebted for life to the people of Uganda for our liberation and particularly your wisdom, the pan-Africanist leadership and courage,” she noted.
Dr. Ramokgopa further promised to follow up on the pledge which was made by the former President of South Africa Jacob Zuma during the commissioning of the OR Tambo School of Leadership, Kaweweta on 26th March 2010 to improve health services delivery at the institute.
“There was a commitment to build a theatre for the hospital and will certainly follow that up to have it implemented. Being a medical doctor myself and having worked in a maternity ward as my last clinical work, I have also added to the obstetrics maternity ward as a token of appreciation to the immense contribution that the people of Uganda meant for our liberation and democracy we enjoy today,” Dr Ramokgopa said.
She further expressed commitment on behalf of the ANC to continue the liberation movement and to build on the successes and the progress so far made.
“Our economies have got minerals, agricultural land and water and the challenge is to translate these economic endowments into a shared prosperity for all our people,” Dr. Ramokgopa added.
During their three-day official working visit in Uganda, the team held high-level meetings with the NRM party Secretary General, Rt. Hon. Richard Todwong and the top management at the party headquarters.
A liberation movement known for its opposition to apartheid, the ANC has governed the country since 1994, when the first post-apartheid election installed Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa.
The meeting at State House was also attended by the NRM deputy Secretary General, Rt. Hon. Rose Namayanja flanked by the party’s National Treasurer, Hon. Amb. Barbara Nekesa.