2. Allow me, to pay tribute to the outgoing Chairperson of SADC, His Excellency Robert Gabriel Mugabe who has guided the Organisation and when during his tenure, SADC adopted the Industrialisation Strategy and Road Map and the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), at the Extra - Ordinary Summit held in Harare, Zimbabwe, in April 2015.
There is no doubt that this has reshaped the pace and course of our region in our quest to maximise beneficiation of our natural resources as a way of creating a better life our people.
3. It is imperative for the Region to expedite the implementation of the RISDP and bring to life the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Road Map.
4. To this end, this Summit is appropriately being held under the theme “Accelerating Industrialisation of SADC Economies through Transformation of Natural Endowment and Improved Human Capital”.
5. The current trade imbalances within the SADC region are reason enough for us to expedite and jump-start efforts towards industrial development, particularly with regard to the creation of value-chains. In this way, the more industrially advanced economies within us can assist the least-developed and small vulnerable economies to leverage on them to also increase their productive capacities. In turn, this will lead to jobs being created and thus reducing labour mobility and concentration in one or two economies in the region.
6. It is therefore my sincere hope that through our deliberations going forward, we will be able to come up with decisions which will guide and direct our officials towards actualising the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
7. It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge and applaud the achievement in the area of market integration, relating to the recent launch of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt in June 2015. This is indeed a milestone achievement in our endeavour to increase trade among African states. It is quite disheartening that there is negligible trade between and among African states. It is a sad fact that we are primarily suppliers of raw materials with very few industrialised nations among us.
8. Equally important is the need to continue to scale up implementation of regional infrastructure, given that it is a key enabler to economic integration and development, and more importantly, in support of our industrialisation effort. We should therefore redouble our efforts towards accelerating implementation of power generation and transmission projects as the regional economy is virtually on its knees owing to incessant power outages that continue to disrupt economic activities and adversely impact on the quality of lives of our people.
9. The conclusion of the Negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and SADC is another milestone achievement which must be acknowledged as it guarantees uninterrupted market access for SADC exports to the EU market.
10. In the area of peace, security and democracy, the SADC region remains one of the most peaceful and stable on the Continent, thanks to mechanisms that we have put in place in the context of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. I wish to commend, in particular, the Organ Troika under the Chairpersonship of President Jacob Zuma, for working tirelessly and providing rapid response to emerging challenges on peace and security.
11. We are perturbed by the rising incidences of terrorism and brutal attacks in East and West Africa together with those in the Magrheb region which have resulted in the loss of numerous innocent lives. We seriously condemn these criminal acts against humanity and pray for the end of these attacks. The SADC region’s contribution towards Africa’s standby Force remains critical, as there would be no stability in Southern Africa, without continental stability.
12. The war on reducing HIV and AIDS infections is continuing. The SADC Secretariat should continue to monitor the situation and coordinate the necessary regional interventions with Member States until we are comfortable that further HIV infections are a thing of the past.
13. As regards food security, there is no doubt that our ability to provide adequate food for the region is a matter of pride and dignity. We need to maintain self-sufficiency, bearing in mind that one component of our industrialisation programme must be agro-processing, which requires a consistent supply of agricultural products.
14. The region should therefore remain steadfast in its effort to implement the key activities articulated by the Maseru Declaration on HIV and AIDS as well as the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security.
15. It is critical that we continue to formulate new and strengthen existing programmes of intervention to address poverty in our region. The era of MDGs has come and gone, and it is evident that some progress has been made. As we move into the era of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be launched at this year’s United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, we need to brace ourselves for the development of a robust result based strategy that guarantees positive socio-economic outcomes for our citizens.
16. In the area of climate change, SADC continues to work with all progressive partners to ensure the protection of the planet for the benefit of our future generations that may question our sincerity in years to come. In the same vein, we need to ensure that we build consensus on a continental basis as we proceed to global fora, among them, COP 21 to be held in Paris, France, in December, 2015.
In the meantime, we need to scale up our efforts towards mitigation of potential adversities of climate change, in particular adaptation measures and awareness creation amongst our citizens. In the final analysis, as a region and as a continent, we need to work together with other progressive global partners to ensure that we contribute to a successor statute to the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2020.
17. I wish to conclude, by calling for our collective efforts in ensuring that we are successful in our endeavours to transform the SADC region into a better place, envied throughout the world as a beacon for political stability and economic prosperity. As such, I take this opportunity to encourage all of us to be part of the journey towards ensuring that SADC successfully delivers on its mandate.
18. I thank you for your kind attention.
Pula! Pula ! Pula !
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