SADC Ministers meet ahead of Summit
Regional integration, trade as well as peace and security are among the issues that are expected to be high on the agenda as a group of Ministers belonging to SADC meet in Pretoria on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The SADC Council of Ministers meeting is a precursor to the SADC Heads of State summit to take place in Tshwane this coming weekend. The meeting of Ministers, which will receive several reports on issues facing the region, prepares critical documents for adoption by the Heads of State summit.
On Tuesday, South Africa took over as chair of the Council, with International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane replacing outgoing chairperson Prince Hlangusemphi Dlamini of Swaziland. South Africa also takes over the chair of SADC for the next year.
The regional body is celebrating 25 years of existence and Minister Nkoana-Mashabane has urged those who are attending the meeting in Tshwane to use the silver jubilee as an opportunity to reflect on “how far we have come in fostering pragmatism and cohesion in our region”.
“In our journey towards regional integration, it is critical that we recognise the relationship and interconnectedness of our regional priorities and the agreed aspirations of the AU’s African Agenda 2063,” Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said.
The theme ‘Partnering with the Private Sector in Developing Industry and Regional Value Chains’, is seen as directly linked to SADC’s programme of industrialisation and economic partnership through partnerships with the private sector.
The Minister said regional leaders at this year’s summit carry a responsibility to ensure that decision taken at these meetings are able to improve the quality of life for the region’s people.
“To this end, we cannot be found to be wanting or to have failed. As such, we must commit appropriate resources and make a concerted effort to cooperatively work together towards the SADC we want,” she said.
Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane: Acceptance of Chairpersonship of the SADC Council
It is with great honour and privilege that I welcome you all to the 37th SADC Council of Ministers.
As we may be aware, 2017 also symbolises an important year for our organisation which celebrates twenty five years this year. This silver jubilee celebration accords us an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in fostering pragmatism and cohesion in our region.
For South Africa, August is Women’s month and every year during this time, we remember the sacrifices and contribution of women in the struggle for a democratic and free nation. At the regional level, women continue to enhance our shared vision of attaining a stable, peaceful, secure and prosperous SADC community.
As Incoming Chair of the Council of Ministers, it is pertinent that I highlight the importance of the SADC Integration Agenda for South Africa and for our neighbourhood. We all remain collectively seized with the responsibility of improving lives of our people.
In our journey towards regional integration it is critical that we recognise the relationship and interconnectedness of our regional priorities and the agreed aspirations of the AU’s African Agenda 2063. Our objectives in SADC are informed by the SADC Common Agenda which in essence, comprises of our agreed blueprints such as the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020), the Regional Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ II and the Regional Infrastructure Development Masterplan.
Guided by our identified priorities as well as the leadership demonstrated by previous Chairs, South Africa’s theme for the Chairship of SADC and the 37th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government is “Partnering with the Private Sector in Developing Industry and Regional Value Chains”. The theme picks up on the already identified importance of industrialisation for the prosperity of the region and seeks to strengthen the region’s capacity to realise industrialisation and economic transformation through partnership with the private sector. In this regard, emphasis would be put on agro-processing, mineral beneficiation and pharmaceutical value chains. As such, our vision for this year is to provide policy direction and an enabling environment for a work programme that prioritises the preparation of high impact cross-border projects that are pragmatic, enhance skills, create jobs and boosts regional trade in high value goods.
As regional leaders, we carry a burden of responsibility to substantially improve the quality of life for the people of our region and to realise sustainable economic development. To this end, we cannot be found to be wanting or to have failed. As such, we must commit appropriate resources and make a concerted effort to cooperatively work together towards the SADC We Want. Further to this, we must, as Member States, support the SADC Secretariat to deliver on its annual work programme and strengthen the Secretariat’s institutional capacity and effectiveness.
Excellencies, we undoubtedly have an extensive agenda ahead of us. Let us accord the work before us the requisite attention and provide the necessary direction on the way forward.
We welcome you once more, and I trust that you will find the arrangements put at your disposal conducive to successful deliberations and to your personal comfort.
I thank you.