37th SADC Summit draws to a close
The 37th Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit ended in Tshwane on Sunday with a commitment to use the region’s natural resources to drive projects that will have economic development snip-offs for the benefit of citizens.
“The summit emphasised the need to have concrete outcomes so as to leverage our natural endowments to change the structure of our economies and promote value-addition, with the focus on agro-processing, mineral beneficiation and pharmaceuticals,” said President Zuma, who assumed the chair of the regional bloc.
These projects, the leaders say, must be boost the skills, enhance regional integration and create mechanisms for the involvement of the private sector.
“Member states must operationalise the outcomes by partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value chains,” says the communique issued at the end of the summit.
The region has recently discovered natural gas, which could constitute the backbone of regional economic integration. The summit has directed the SADC secretariat to facilitate the establishment of a regional Natural Gas Committee to promote the inclusion of gas in the regional energy mix.
“There is convergence among member states on the importance of working with the private sector in this regard. Energy security is a critical input to industrial development,” said President Zuma.
In order to address the constraints of financing, the summit emphasized the need for resource mobilisation, including the operationalisation of the Regional Development Fund, which will support and drive the industrialisation agenda.
“We all remain collectively engaged with working on improving the prosperity and development of our people. In this regard, the SADC Integration Agenda is important for our family of nations,” said President Zuma.
The summit also concluded that the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) should find expression in the work of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA). The FTA between SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and East African countries would open up a market of US $1.3 trillion in terms of the Gross Domestic Product, while also improving the movement of goods and people.
“We need to move forward with the plethora of issues on our agenda. We also welcome the solidarity displayed by our distinguished guests from United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, as well as the African Development Bank’s commitment to support our programme of action,” said President Zuma.
Other decisions the summit made was the direction to urgently develop a comprehensive regional strategy to deal with drug abuse and cybercrime.
The summit commend member states that have reached 50:50 gender representation in political and decision making positions and urged those who have not to strive towards reaching the targets.
President Zuma described the summit as a success.
“As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of our community, it is absolutely important to acknowledge that as a region, we have performed exceedingly well over the years. Our region is undoubtedly politically stable and peaceful. True to the key objectives of SADC, member states continue to implement critical programmes of the organisation, including the conduct of regular democratic elections,” said President Zuma.
Numerous SADC Heads of State and Government, including Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane, Namibian President Hage Geingob, Botswana President Ian Khama, Zambian President Edgar Lungu, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe were in attendance at the summit. Some of the leaders were, however, absent on Sunday, the final day of the summit.
The Closing Ceremony saw the swearing in of the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, and the Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo, for a second term.
Dr Tax delivered the 37th SADC Summit Communiqué at the end of the Official Closing Ceremony by highlighting the deliberations and decisions of the Summit as endorsed by Heads of State and Government.
Closing Statement by SADC Chairperson, H.E. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa
20 August 2017
We have now come to the end of the 37th Ordinary SADC Summit whose adopted theme is “Partnering with the Private Sector in developing Industry and Regional Value Chains”. This theme was carefully developed to build on the themes of the Republics of Zimbabwe and Botswana and the Kingdom of Swaziland.
The theme therefore is aimed at ensuring continuity and places particular focus on the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap in order to accelerate economic growth and development in the region.
As you are aware, this Summit coincides with the Silver Jubilee of SADC. As we celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of our Community, it is absolutely important to acknowledge that as a region, we have performed exceedingly well over the years. Our Region is undoubtedly politically stable and peaceful.
True to the key objectives of SADC, Member States continue to implement critical programmes of the organisation including the conduct of regular democratic elections. We continue to be guided by the principles of sovereign equality of Member States, solidarity, peace and security, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
As we celebrate our Silver Jubilee, we saw an increase in membership of our Community when Summit decided to admit the Union of the Comoros, thus bringing the total membership of the SADC family to sixteen (16).
During our discussions, we bid farewell to President Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola who is retiring. President Dos Santos has been one of the key pillars of SADC.
We thus take this opportunity to thank him profoundly for his contribution to the liberation struggle in the region and his outstanding contribution to SADC. We wish him good health in his retirement. We also wish to take this opportunity to wish the people of Angola peaceful elections.
We also bid farewell to President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of the Republic of Botswana who is leaving office in April 2018.
In this regard, we thank President Khama for his active involvement and leadership in SADC. We will always remember his leadership of SADC during 2015/2016. We hope that even during his retirement, he will continue to contribute to the work of SADC.
During the Summit we reviewed the political and security situation in the region.
We noted with appreciation the relative political and security tranquillity in the region with notable challenges in the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
On Lesotho, we have welcomed the commitment of the new Government to implement SADC decisions.
In this regard, we have urged them to submit a clear time-bound roadmap on the implementation of all SADC decisions and Commission of Inquiry by November 2017.
On the DRC, the Summit noted that it might not be possible to hold elections in December 2017, due to a number of challenges currently receiving attention.
Accordingly, Summit has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission of the DRC to publicise the revised electoral calendar. The Summit has also approved the appointment of a SADC Special Envoy to the DRC in the level of a Former Head of State. There are consultations aimed at finalising this matter.
The Heads of State and Government have reiterated their collective resolve to promote peace and stability since this is a precursor to economic growth and development.
As indicated earlier, this Summit approved the theme “Partnering with the Private Sector in Developing Industry and Regional value-chains” as the theme for 2017 and directed the Secretariat to operationalise it.
Africa is the richest continent with the poorest people. Our heritage and endowment must be used to drive economic development for the benefit of all Africa’s citizens.
Therefore, the discovery and exploitation of natural gas within our region should constitute the backbone of our regional economic integration.
As such, Summit directed the Secretariat to facilitate the establishment of a regional Natural Gas Committee to promote the inclusion of gas in the regional energy mix and in the promotion of industrial development.
Summit emphasised the need to have concrete outcomes so as to leverage our natural endowments to change the structure of our economies and promote value-addition with the focus on agro-processing, mineral beneficiation and pharmaceuticals.
There is convergence among member states on the importance of working with the private sector in this regard. Energy security is a critical input to industrial development.
This is an indication of our resolve to practically implement our Industrial Strategy and Roadmap.
In order to address the critical constraints of financing our work programme, we emphasised the need for resource mobilisation, including the Operationalisation of the Regional Development Fund. We all remain collectively engaged with working on improving the prosperity and development of our peoples.
In this regard, the SADC Integration Agenda is important for our family of nations.
The vision of a connected and prosperous African continent, the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) should find expression in the work of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).
As such, we should all continue in earnest with our engagements. We need to move forward with the plethora of issues on our agenda. We also welcome the solidarity displayed by our distinguished Guests from United Nations Economic Commission for Africa as well as the African Development Bank’s commitment to support our programme of action.
On behalf of the SADC family, we wish to extend our heartfelt condolences and express solidarity with the people of Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo that have lost their loved ones in the recent mudslide disasters.
Before I conclude, I wish to express my gratitude to His Majesty King Mswati III, the outgoing Chairperson of SADC for valuable contribution and leadership during the period he presided over our Organisation. He has made our work much easier.
In the same vein, I wish to thank the Republic of Botswana as the outgoing member of the Troika of the Summit and congratulate the Republic of Namibia as the incoming Chair of Summit.
Regarding the Organ Troika, I wish to thank the Republic of Mozambique as outgoing member and congratulate the Republic of Zambia as the Incoming Chair of the Organ Troika.
I also wish to thank the SADC Secretariat under the Executive Secretary, Dr Tax and her Deputies for their professionalism and support. We look forward to closely working together during our Chairship.