BRUSSELS, Belgium – African and European leaders yesterday agreed that the two continents, which once had a servant-master relationship during the colonial era, should now work together as equals.
This comes as Zimbabwe is seeking to use the summit to push for the removal of unjust sanctions imposed on the country as punishment for the revolutionary land reform programme.
President Mnangagwa was yesterday part of the strong team of African leaders who descended on Brussels, Belgium, to demand equal treatment from the EU member states that have in the past made unilateral and often selfish decisions on Africa.
In his speech at the summit, chairperson of the African Union (AU) and Senegalese President, Mr Macky Sall demanded the return of African artefacts looted during the colonial era and the need to forge new relations based on mutual trust.
AU Commission chairperson, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, said the days of empty talk on overcoming challenges besetting Africa should be consigned to the dustbin of history.
“Although the EU/AU convergence is a good step forward, it has serious problems because of the mismatch between the declarations and practical impact that it has had to be able to transform our continent although the preparation of this conference has been better, diverse and more hand -in-hand.
“We must make even more progress to strengthen our consensus. Africa is developing a broad range of partnerships, they do not share the same history, they may not have the same depth as our partnership but they are no less important or advantageous for Africa. From that perspective they deserve to be respected and taken into account,” he said.
He said there is need for a mutually beneficial relationship, for instance, in the transition from fossil fuel to green energy which some world countries would want to foist on Africa even when it is the cheaper and available type of energy.
EU Council President, Mr Charles Michel, conceded that there is a need to chart a new path.
“Welcome to Brussels for this 6th European Union-African Union Summit. I hope you feel welcome, here in the spirit of Teranga, that I feel every time (when) I travel to Africa.
“With my good friend Macky Sall, and with both Commissions, we worked as a team to prepare this important political moment. A warm thank you to you, my dear Macky, for your wisdom, frankness, and practical experience. And a special thanks to Emmanuel Macron and the French rotating Presidency. Your leadership, your vision, and your political energy have been a powerful engine. Thank you also to the African leaders that I met, some of you many times, here in Europe or in Africa. And to all European leaders that helped prepare this summit.
“All these meetings have been important milestones in the run-up to this summit. Many others have played a pivotal role in helping us rethink our partnership, and to create a new paradigm,” said Mr Michel.
Zimbabwe in particular has been at the receiving end of baneful sanctions that were imposed by the EU, Britain and the United States as punishment for the land reform programme that redressed colonial land imbalances between blacks and whites.
And yesterday the voice of Africa, which was partitioned in 1885 by EU member states at a conference held in Berlin, Germany, was loud and clear that gone are the days when their voices were drowned by the rich Western countries.
Europe is facing stiff competition from other investors and is seeking to use the summit to renew its relations with Africa which had soured over the years.
In a statement, the EU said the new partnership seeks a deeper AU-EU partnership with the highest political involvement and based on trust and a clear understanding of mutual interests. Leaders are expected to discuss how both continents can build greater prosperity.
The aim of the summit is also to launch an ambitious Africa-Europe Investment Package, taking into account global challenges such as climate change and the current health crisis prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In closed door meetings, leaders from the AU/EU, with experts from various fields also debated economic growth financing, health systems and vaccine production, agriculture and sustainable development education. Other areas covered included culture and vocational training, migration and mobility, private sector support and economic integration, peace, security and governance, climate change and energy transition, digital and transport (connectivity and infrastructure).
A joint declaration on a joint vision for 2030 is expected to be adopted by delegates today.