Johannesburg - Generations of African leaders have failed to transform the economies inherited from their colonial masters, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi
said on Friday.
"All our economies to this day remain dominated by the unprocessed natural resource sector, with little or no industrialisation," Vavi told African Union leaders at the International Trade Union Confederation congress in Boksburg.
"Some countries rely 90% on mineral exports," he said.
Vavi was concerned that colonialists were continuing to plunder Africa's mineral resources, decades after their political defeat.
He said the scramble for Africa’s resources by imperialist forces and their interference in the continent had to be confronted.
Africa had an abundance of natural resources, but remained the poorest continent in the world, Vavi said.
Income levels remained "terribly low", while income inequalities had remained "stubbornly high".
He blamed the mass poverty and food insecurity on a failed post-colonial political economy on the continent.
This was exacerbated by "a venal, corrupt and visionless leadership which cares little for people".
Vavi called for the renewal of the African trade union movement towards African emancipation, saying it was time for all workers to re-mobilise and fight for a new freedom not gained.
The scale of the "sham of independence" of the continent needed to be exposed, he said.
"For too long we have allowed the dependency syndrome whilst claiming to be liberated.
"Either we export our minerals to our colonial masters, or they control our finances, or both."
The continent had not industrialised or diversified its economies, and did not add value to its natural resources, said Vavi.
"We do not own our mines and we do not own our economies," he said.