president mugabe 25-11-10 ed.jpgHead of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe  Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe says the COMESA economic bloc should transform itself from being a mere producer of raw materials but instead harness science and technology  for value addition programmes.

President Mugabe was speaking during ongoing 15th COMESA summit of the Heads of States and Governments in Lilongwe, Malawi.

He said the high level meeting comes at a time when there is great concern over the level of development of the COMESA bloc.

President Mugabe referred to the primary development of the economies which are mainly based on agriculture and mining saying these economic activities can be further enhanced through harnessing science and technology.

President Mugabe took the opportunity to update the meeting on the country’s indigenisation programme saying multinational mining companies such as Zimplats have not been willing to set up value addition plants as they preferred to loot the country’s mineral wealth in its raw form.

He encouraged the member states to insist on the beneficiation of their mineral resources and ensure that the indigenous people have total control and ownership of their resources as the country has done through the indigenisation law.

On peace and security issues, President Mugabe said small countries are living in fear as the global bullies are on a deliberate ploy to promote neo-colonialism.

He made reference to the situation in Libya where NATO forces dislodged Colonel Muamar Gaddafi.

Cde Mugabe also blasted the West for contravening the United Nations Charter on non-interference in sovereign states.

He said COMESA member states should add their voice in calling for discussions between Gaddafi and the National Transitional Council.

President Mugabe earlier on signed the African Trade Insurance Agreement.

Cde Mugabe said trade should be reciprocal and show that the member states of the regional economic grouping are driving maximum benefits from the bilateral and multilateral arrangements, adding that the scope of the economic activities should also demonstrate successful inter-regional and intra-regional trade.

The African Trade Insurance Agreement signed by President Mugabe was established at the initiative of COMESA and is owned by African member states and is supported by the World Bank  and other major private insurance companies.

The trade insurance aims to facilitate private sector-led trade flows, investment and ‘productive activities’ through the provision of insurance, coinsurance and reinsurance, financial instruments and related services.

African trade insurance is open to all African Union member states, corporate and regional body members.

During the summit reports, were presented by the chairman of various committees of the regional economic grouping which are set to be adopted by the heads of states of the 15th COMESA summit.

Meanwhile, the COMESA media wards were scooped by Uganda in the print media category whilst the electronic one went to Burundi.

The summit which ends this Saturday will also tackle a broad agenda encompassing an overview of the COMESA regional integration programme with special focus on trade and investment, opportunities for innovative means of financing for national development and regional integration.

The state of the COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite negotiations for the establishment of a Grand Free Trade Area will also come under discussion.

It is hoped that the Grand FTA will pave the way for the launch of the envisaged African Economic Community.

The First Ladies of COMESA are also meeting on the sidelines of the summit whilst the resolutions passed by the Council of Ministers are set to be adopted by the heads of states and government.