Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe insisted on Thursday that his country is not a failed state and accused the US of being fragile because of its economic dependence on China.
Mugabe pointed to Zimbabwe's 90 per cent literacy rate to support his claim that the southern African country, which has battled economic chaos in recent years, is one of the best resourced on the continent.
"We are not a poor country and we can't be a fragile country, I can call America fragile, they went on their knees to China," he said during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban.
"Zimbabwe is the most highly developed country in Africa after South Africa."
Long-time leader Mugabe has ruled through the country's dramatic economic collapse.
Hyperinflation wiped out savings more than 10 years ago, unemployment is sky-high and economic output has halved since 2000, when many white-owned farms were seized.
Oxfam's executive director Winnie Byanyima, who was also participating in the panel on the theme of failed states, said that oppressive leaders were to blame for the continent's challenges.
"Our leaders say we are rich, they say we are developed, they say we have resources but the people do not see that. They clamp down on freedom of the media and the rights of people," she said.
"Let us give others a chance, it is important that we have elections that are free and fair — that reflect the will of the people, that is at the heart of governance."
Mugabe, 93, appeared to fall asleep at the end of the session.