President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, one of the continent’s longest-serving leaders, has urged fellow leaders on the continent to partner with progressive countries such as China and Japan to fully exploit Africa’s abundant natural resources for mutual benefit.

In his final round of meetings concluding his official visit to Japan this week, President Mugabe told African diplomats based in Tokyo Wednesday that Africa was failing to gain full control of its resources, some of which remained in the control of erstwhile colonizers.

“What was the fight for decolonization for, the fight for independence for? What does sovereignty mean if we are not sovereign over our natural resources?” President Mugabe asked.

“For one reason or another, we have decided that although intellectually we can become engineers of this or that, experts and even become professors, deans of faculties at various universities across the world, we are not able to organize ourselves, our engineers to get us to do the exploitation of oil and gas, diamonds and gold on our own. No, we want the White man.

“The White man will be happy to come and say, ‘We will give you 15 per cent of what we produce’. Or that, ‘First we must agree that all the oil belongs to us and we will give you a portion’.”

Warning that neo-colonialists were still bent on regaining total control of the continent’s resources, President Mugabe said Africa should never forget the lessons learnt through the invasions of Libya and Iraq, now ravaged by civil strife after their former leaders were killed by Western countries under pretext of fighting terrorism.

Instead, President Mugabe said China and Japan were key countries that Africa could partner with to fully exploit its resources for mutual benefit.

Japan this August hosts the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) in Kenya, after China last year held the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in South Africa.

Both Ticad and FOCAC are attempts by the two Asian giants to strengthen ties with Africa for mutual benefit, Mugabe said, adding that Africa must use gatherings such as Ticad to push for implementation of various projects under the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

President Mugabe warned African leaders against unceasing regime change tactics by Westerners, calling on them to remain vigilant and keep the spirit of the continent’s founding fathers alive by pursuing total control of resources and economic independence of Africa.

“We still have to grapple with an Africa that is now being dominated by outside powers through their non-governmental organizations, sometimes through aid, controlling our systems and making our people un-free,” President Mugabe said.

The Zimbabwe government has so far fully compensated 240 White former farmers whose farms it acquired under agrarian reforms as it moves to bring finality to the land issue, says Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora.

Zimbabwe embarked on a land reform programme at the turn of the millennium to address colonial land imbalances.

Mombeshora told delegates at a workshop on consensus-based compensation mechanisms that his Ministry was undertaking valuations of all farms which the government acquired, to determine the compensation payable to the previous owners.

He said the government acquired a total of 6,240 farms for re-distribution.

“To date, my Ministry has valued 1,519 farms out of 6,240. At least 240 previous owners have been fully compensated and 17 partially paid,” he said without revealing the amount spent on compensating the former farm owners so far.

“While a number of former owners have consented to the compensation offered, Treasury has not been able to provide the requisite funds to my Ministry. Currently eleven former farm owners have consented but have not yet been paid.”

He said the government had received financial support worth 7.8 million US dollars from the United Nations Development Program and the European Union to conduct valuations and other related activities under the compensation programme.

“The Ministry of Finance and Development and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe have recently released sufficient financial resources to my Ministry to enable the speedy completion of the

outstanding farm valuations and title surveys for the new farms,” he added.

“Similarly, Treasury has given approval for the operationalization of the Ministry’s Compensation Fund into which all the revenue generated by the Ministry is channeled.

“I have been assured of their commitment to making more financial resources available to my Ministry as the need arises, for the completion of all activities related to the land reform programme, including the issuance of security of tenure documents to the beneficiaries of the land reform program and the operations of the soon to be established Land Commission.”

He said all these endeavours were an indication of government desire to speedily bring to finality the issue of compensating all former farm owners but the process was moving at a slow pace because of various reasons, including that the valuation process was time consuming and costly as it required on-site inspections of the farms.