DURBAN – Changing the mindset of Africans was key in developing Africa, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Friday.
She was launching her coffee table book, titled African Union Commission which summarises her term as the African Union’s chairwoman from 2012 to 2017.
The launch was hosted by Independent Media at the Hilton Hotel in Durban on Friday.
Dlamini-Zuma who described herself as a "continental soldier" said people think the world donates to Africa but instead it's Africa that donates to the world in terms of labour and resources. She said this mindset needs to change.
Dlamini-Zuma said this could change in a number of ways. One of them was to improve intra-Africa trade and it was important for the continent to industrialise, from infrastructure to energy.
“Africa is a dark continent in the sense that we don't have enough energy. Currently, Africa is generating slightly more electricity than Spain and in Sub-Saharan Africa most of the electricity is in South Africa which is not enough," she said.
There was also not enough investment in the continent despite the continent being endowed with resources.
“We have every mineral you can think of,” she said. The most precious resource is its people she said. The continent has more than a billion people that are still young. By 2025, 25% of youth will be in Africa.
"It's only people that can create wealth,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
But for people to be able to work there needed to be an investment in their health and education. She noted that it should be both men and women.
Part of good health was food, and currently, 80% of processed food in Africa is imported and this should not be the case.
"We should be doing it here for ourselves," she said explaining that this could bring in tens of billions of dollars and could do a lot for the development of the continent.
This was particularly important as “Africa is the only continent that has unused arable land,” she said.
“We need to modernise agriculture so that women can work the fields better and attract young people to agriculture,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
She said Africa had a story to tell, and the book was part of telling the African story.
One person who also encouraged in telling the African story is Sekunjalo Executive Chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé.
He said Dlamini should not be referred to as President Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife but as a woman in her own right. He lauded her successful fight against smoking in restaurants and public places. Survé lauded her role as Home Affairs, Health and Foreign Affairs among other things.
Except for Independent Media, Survé said the media portrayed black people are corrupt, murky and incompetent. This was the narrative perpetuated by the likes of Nasionale Pers and Caxton group who were running a campaign to remove a democratically elected government, Survé said.
Survé said it was only Independent Media that was giving both sides of the story.
Ethekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede agreed that Dlamini-Zuma was a woman in her own right saying she was a medical doctor by profession, who had been in the trenches fighting for the liberation of South Africa.
“She has also championed African development and women empowerment in her illustrious career of serving people,” Gumede said.
“We must reject the public opinion that seeks to say a woman can only succeed if they are supported by a man. The reality is that a man only succeeds because of a woman,” she said.
Gumede said she hoped the book will give insight on the work that needed to be done in Africa.
“I hope it will highlight the achievements by this wonderful mother and woman. It is important that we learn about her work in Africa not because of the December conference. Our vision for Africa is not 2017 but vision 2063. We must begin to look beyond conference and slates – but think about the Africa we want to have,” Gumede said.
She said Dlamini-Zuma had clear and untainted credentials and has proven to be presidential material in the many deployments she had undertaken.
“She has served in the ANC NEC for many years – not because she was single or divorced – but because of her credentials and character. She represents where we come from and capable to take us to the next level of our liberation called economic freedom,” Gumede said.