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.

“When shall we ever be free? Yes, we are Francophone, Anglophone or Lusophone but that does not make us English people, or French people or Portuguese or Spanish nationals, we are African nationals,” he added, calling for unity among African leaders.

“We have lost ground. What our fathers stood against, is now once again a threat to us. We who have taken over from them are reversing the gains and we are now experiencing difficulties.”

He said he would not tire of reminding African leaders to keep the continent’s dream alive.

“They say I am an ancient voice, the voice of those gone, yes I am the voice of those gone,” he said.

President Mugabe took the diplomats down memory lane, explaining to them how the Western world punished Zimbabwe for regaining total control of its land, through reforms that sought to redress colonial imbalances that favored minority Whites.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe travelled to the city of Kyoto where he met senior local government officials and expressed interest in exchange and joint programmes for universities in areas such as research and development as well as arts and culture.