With the end of the cold war and widespread recognition that to participate in the global economy African nations will have to regionalize their economies, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s minister of justice, sees a bright future for the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In an interview with GlobalFax at the Radisson Hotel downtown June 25, Mr. Mnangagwa said he expects that in time even the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) will join South Africa, Zimbabwe and the 10 other members of SADC to create a market of 200 million people in a region containing vast mineral resources.
The day before, the new Congo government asked that SADC help rebuild the country’s bankrupt economy after decades of dictatorship by ousted president Mobutu Sese Seseko.
Originally, SADC was a loose association of states united in their struggle against colonialism and apartheid, but today the emphasis is on economic integration, he said.
For instance, he described agreements for trade in electricity across borders and for the building and rehabilitation of road and rail links. A mining development strategy is in the process of being negotiated as is the liberalization of intra-regional trade in goods and services.
A close adviser for many years to Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, Mr. Mnangagwa was visiting the U.S. for the first time and wished to study the prison system in keeping with his responsibilities as Minister of Justice for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
A former political prisoner in Zimbabwe for 10 years, Mr. Mnangagwa said that he would be interested in visiting Atlanta’s federal penitentiary, and that he also was looking forward to speaking with local business leaders.
“In Zimbabwe all ministers are interested in promoting economic development,” he said, pointing to the country’s current growth rate of more than 4%.
He encouraged small- to medium-sized companies to contact the Zimbabwe Investment Centre in Harare to learn of opportunities that they would find in his home country.
His visit was arranged by the Georgia Council for International Visitors under a program of the United States Information Agency. The e-mail address of the Zimbabwe Investment Centre is email@example.com