“The people of southern Africa will not judge us by the adoption of key strategic documents, but rather by the outcomes achieved, following implementation.”
These were the words of incoming Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairperson, President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana at the close of the 35th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Gaborone.
He said the region has a lot to gain from working together, especially if all SADC member states implement agreed regional projects, programmes and activities within the stipulated timeframes.
However, failure to do so would render the decisions meaningless and the benefits of belonging to a regional community will not be enjoyed by SADC citizens.
“I, therefore, call upon all of us to implement agreed priorities in these strategic plans in order to improve the well-being of our peoples,” he said, adding that “it goes without saying that we need each other if we are to prosper as a region.”
President Khama said it was also critical for the region to take full charge of its development plan and financing mechanism.
This is in light of the fact that most of the developmental programmes of SADC are funded by International Cooperating Partners (ICPs), compromising the ownership and sustainability of the programmes.
For example, it is estimated that more than 70 percent of the SADC budget comes from ICPs, notably the European Union.
“I recognize the continued support of our regional development efforts by our ICPs. I wish to thank them once again for their immerse contribution and urge them to continue to support us as we move towards regional integration,” he said.
He, however, noted that “while their support is commendable, it remains necessary for SADC to find innovative ways of financing the regional agenda.”
In addition, he said “this should be accompanied by operational efficiency at the SADC Secretariat to reduce administration costs in order to release resources for the implementation of SADC programmes.”
On the cooperation with other regional and international organizations and bodies, the new chairperson said it is critical that the SADC position is always heard and maintained since the “SADC family shall always be characterized by common values, a common destiny, for a common people, that emerged from a common history, forever seeking a common future.”
According to a communiqué released soon after the summit, the leaders discussed on a wide range of issues, including the political situation in the region.
On Lesotho, the leaders urged all political parties and stakeholders to develop a roadmap to implement constitutional and security sector reforms to ensure the country returns to stability.
The summit commended Madagascar on its efforts to maintain peace, urging stakeholders to “safeguard achievements made in nation building and reconciliation by fully implementing the SADC roadmap” for the Indian Ocean island state
Cognizant that terrorism is a global threat, the leaders said there is need for the region to have a common and coordinated approach to prevent and combat acts of international and domestic terrorism. In this regard the summit approved the SADC Regional Counter Terrorism Strategy.
With regards to gender development, the summit urged countries to speed up implementation of various measures and strategies aimed at elevating more women into key decision-making positions.
“SADC noted with regard to representation of women in political and decision making positions and commended member states that have achieved high female representation as state leadership, legislature and judiciary levels, and other senior positions in public and private sector,” reads part of the communiqué.
“Summit further urged member states to adopt appropriate measures to improve and sustain these achievements.”
In recognizing the role played by its founding fathers, the “summit directed the Secretariat to develop a mechanism to honour the legacy of the SADC Founding Fathers, to be submitted for consideration at the next ordinary summit.”
Summit also endorsed international calls for the United Kingdom to “expeditiously end its unlawful occupation of the Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia, with a view to enabling Mauritius to effectively exercise its sovereignty over the Archipelago, without which full decolonization of Africa is not complete.”
On the recently adopted SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap, and Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), summit directed the Council of Ministers “to finalize on-going work on alternative sources of funding and report to the next ordinary summit.”
The Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap aim at accelerating the momentum towards strengthening the comparative and competitive advantages of economies of the region. It is anchored on three pillars, industrialization, competitiveness and regional integration.
The Revised RISDP is a five-year plan that guides the implementation of all SADC programmes from 2015-2020.
The 35th SADC Summit, which was held on 17-18 August, run under the theme “Accelerating Industrialization of SADC Economies, Through Transformation of Natural Endowment and Improved Human Capital.”
The theme continued the trajectory of the previous summit held last year in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, which focused on economic transformation and sustainable development “through beneficiation and value addition”.
At the summit, King Mswati III of Swaziland was elected the SADC deputy chair, meaning that Swaziland will host the 36th SADC Summit in 2016.
He said SADC is a formidable organization that has the capacity to improve the livelihoods of its citizens.
“We are well aware that there is no country that can achieve this goal and survive in isolation,” he said, adding that “therefore, through SADC, we are able to come together to discuss impediments to our social and economic development.”
The 35th SADC Summit also elected Presidents Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique and Jakaya Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania as chair and deputy of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, respectively.
South African President Jacob Zuma and Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili are the outgoing chair and deputy of the Organ, respectively.