Kikwete Assures SADC of Fair Polls (allAfrica.com)

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has assured SADC Heads of State and Government of peaceful and fair elections in Tanzania in October.

In his farewell speech at the closure of the 35th summit, President Kikwete affirmed that he would do all in his power to achieve that end. He was bidding farewell to his counterparts as according the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, his term ends this October.

In his speech read on his behalf by the Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda, President Kikwete said that he was optimistic that the forthcoming general election would be another success story.

“I’ll certainly do all in my power and capabilities to ensure that the elections are truly free, fair, peaceful, transparent and credible as they have always been since we joined the multiparty system in 1995,” he stated.

The president wholeheartedly congratulated the people of Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Mauritius, Zambia and the Kingdom of Lesotho for their recent peaceful, free, transparent, fair and credible elections.

“I’m optimistic that the forthcoming general elections in my country will add credence to the success stories”, he noted. President Kikwete unveiled a number of activities and initiatives engineered by Tanzania to support SADC during his 10-year tenure.

“We chaired the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security in 2012/13, in which we led election observation missions in Angola and Zimbabwe and galvanised political support for the implementation of the SADC roadmap for Madagascar.

As the chair of the Organ, we played a part in searching for the lasting solution of the crisis in DRC through concerted efforts within SADC in collaboration with UN, AU and the IGGLR partners”, he explained.

Despite mentioning a catalogue of achievements made by SADC in its almost 20 years while serving it in various positions, the president threw challenges and opportunities for SADC to prosper.

He has been member of the Executive Council and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation from 1995 to 2005 and as a member of the Summit and President from 2005 to 2015.

The challenges include instability and insecurity in DRC and how to transform the region into economic giant. Opportunities include implementation of the envisaged tripartite agreement, merging COMESA, SADC and EAC.

He also expressed his gratitude for AU to name new Peace and Security Building in honour of the Father of the Nation, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and SADC’s completion of the Hashim Mbita Project that documents liberation struggles in the region.

Speaking shortly after the closure of the summit, Mr Pinda said that President Kikwete had fulfilled what he had declared on Day One that he would not extend the presidential term limit.

“Such decision did not give him a hard time because he had such a resolve at heart and due to our constitution, such thing is not debatable. I don’t believe there will emerge a madman who will extend his term limit,” he noted.

The Premier urged leaders of African countries to respect their constitutions and refrain from avarice for power, saying he did not believe in indispensability.

Commenting on peace and security during the forthcoming general elections, Mr Pinda said that everybody had a role to play to ensure peaceful, free, fair, credible elections.

“An individual should be responsible, political parties must be responsible by desisting from incitement and security organs must also be responsible by being restraint and avoid excessive use of force.

But NEC (National Electoral Commission) also must be well prepared in terms of timely distribution of equipment and fair conduct so as to smoothen the elections,” he observed.

According to the communiqué issued at the end of the 35th Summit, the heads of state and government received President Kikwete’s remarks very well.

Meanwhile, Mr Pinda said Tanzania is ready for implementation of SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap. During the 35th SADC summit that climaxed here on Tuesday, the leaders adopted the 2015/2063 Industrialisation Strategy.

The summit resolved to continuously monitor the actualisation of the strategy and roadmap at its ordinary summits. Speaking to a handful of Tanzania’s reporters shortly after the closure of the summit, Mr Pinda noted that the strategy and roadmap was in line with the National Development Plan 2015-2020.

“We are ready to implement it because is in line with our Development Plan 2015. And in our plan, we were focusing on processing industries that will add value to our products”, he explained.

He was optimistic that such endeavour would boost Tanzania’s economy and eventually SADC economies. Mr Pinda, however, advised SADC, especially its secretariat, to closely monitor the implementation of the strategy and the roadmap in each member state.

“There’s need for SADC, especially its secretariat, to make evaluation after every five years to know the implementation of the strategy and roadmap in order to establish its actuality and practicability “, he floated the idea.

Commenting on numerous SADC programmes and projects some of which are non starters, Mr Pinda was upbeat that the projects and plans would eventually pay dividends.

“We should not be in despair, we’ve to be committed and I’m sure we’ll succeed. Plans (strategy) like industrialisation are very important for any economy now”, he added.

The summit also resolved to scale up implementation of regional infrastructure as a key enabler to economic integration in support of industrialization — and noted the progress in the implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2015- 2010.

According to the communiqué, the summit reaffirmed the approved Terms of Reference of the Commission of Inquiry and strongly urged the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to gazette the terms.

The summit also endorsed international calls for the United Kingdom to expeditiously end its unlawful expansion of the Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia, with a view of enabling Mauritius to effectively exercise its sovereignty over the Archipelago, without which the full decolonisation of Africa is not complete.

Meanwhile, King Mswati III of Swaziland has been selected to be the Vice- Chairman of SADC and its next Chairman while Mozambique has been picked as the new Chairman of TROIKA, with Tanzania being its Vice-Chairperson.