43rd SADC Summit: Key decisions made on peace and security, industrialisation

SANF 23 no 17 – By Clarkson Mambo in Luanda, Angola

The Southern African Development Community has made critical decisions to ensure the region continues to make progress with industrialisation to drive its socio-economic development in an integrated, united and peaceful environment.

The decisions are contained in the communiqué released at the end of the 43rd Summit of SADC Heads and State and Government held in Luanda, Angola on 17 August 2023.

At the top of the agenda was the update on peace and security in the region from the outgoing chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President Hage G. Geingob of Namibia. This was particularly with regard to the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), northern Mozambique, Eswatini and Lesotho, as well as upcoming general elections in some member states.

The Summit endorsed a decision to extend the SADC Mission in Mozambique by one year to ensure that it achieves its objective of supporting national efforts to return the province of Cabo Delgado to peace and security.

Significant gains have been made already to stabilise the region. The timeframe of one year is expected to also allow the regional forces to begin a phased withdrawal from the country.

Turning to the DRC, the Summit endorsed the deployment of the SADC Mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC) to restore peace and security in the eastern DRC where well-armed rebels are causing instability, attacking people and villages.

“Summit noted the outcome of the Quadripartite Summit, and reiterated the call to strengthen the coordination and harmonisation of peace initiatives in eastern DRC, by various actors including the East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), SADC and United Nations (UN) and the African Union Commission (AUC), and commended H.E. President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, as AU Champion, for leading peace and reconciliation processes in the continent,” reads the communiqué.

The Summit received an update on progress that has been made in Lesotho where a national reform process is ongoing, with a SADC Panel of Elders led by former Tanzanian President, Dr Jakaya Kikwete now involved in the process. Previously President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa had led the process as the SADC-appointed facilitator to return the kingdom to stability after many years of uncertainty.

A new government led by Prime Minister Samuel Matekane, who attended the SADC Summit for the first time, has committed to fully implement the reforms to ensure continued peace and stability in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

On elections, the Summit wished well the four member states that are holding polls this year – Zimbabwe in August, Eswatini in September, Madagascar in November and the DRC in December. South Africa and Botswana and Botswana will hold general elections in 2024.

Still on matters of peace and security, the summit elected the President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema as Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation for the coming year, and Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan, the President of Tanzania as the next Chairperson of the Organ. Namibia, as the previous chair, is the third member of the Organ Troika.

In a continuation of its core theme of industrialisation maintained for the past decade, the Summit endorsed and adopted the theme, “Human and Financial Capital: The Key Drivers for Sustainable Industrialisation in the SADC Region”, as proposed by the host nation.

“The theme seeks to address two of the most critical enablers in supporting regional industrialisation in the context of climate change and 4th Industrial Revolution,” reads the communiqué.

Adoption of the new theme followed consensus that significant progress had been made in the past year in driving the industrialisation agenda under the leadership of DRC as then SADC Chairperson.

The DRC has championed the region under the theme, “Promoting industrialization through, agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, and regional value chains for inclusive and resilient economic growth”.

The target under industrialisation is to ensure that the region maximises benefits from value addition of its abundant mineral resources for the improvement of the standards of living for its citizens.

The Summit received progress reports on the status of implementation of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2020-2030 focusing on the region’s socio-economic situation, economic performance, infrastructure development, industrialisation, regional food and nutrition security situation, gender and development, the status of health in the region, and disaster risk management.

With employment being an important aspect of the integration agenda, the leaders approved and signed the SADC Protocol on Employment and Labour which provides a strategic regional co-operation framework on employment and labour related matters to facilitate the achievement of decent work.

The summit also endorsed the Regional Gas Master Plan, 2023-2038 as an infrastructure investment blueprint to enable coordinated harnessing of natural gas resources within the region. This is part of initiatives to widen the sources of energy through exploitation of vast reserves in the region and at the same time creating new jobs.

Turning to disaster management, the summit noted the progress made to operationalize of the SADC Humanitarian Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC) and urged Member States who have not done so to fast-track national processes to sign the Memorandum of Agreement. This will facilitate the entry into force of the Agreement and the establishment of the SHOC Centre in Mozambique which is targeted for October 2023.

In line with their commitment in managing HIV and AIDS, the regional leaders approved and signed the SADC Declaration on Accelerating Action to end HIV and AIDS as a Public Health Threat in the SADC Region by 2030.

“The Heads of State and Government committed to provide strong leadership and work in partnership with local communities and the international community in keeping the fight against HIV and AIDS a top priority for the Region,” reads the communiqué.

SADC leaders approved the appointment of Dr. Judith Kateera, a citizen of

Zimbabwe, as the SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Corporate Affairs. She takes over from Ambassador Joseph Nourrice from Seychelles, whose tenure is coming to an end in October 2023. He was lauded for serving the region “diligently, professionally, and with unwavering commitment.”

With President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço of Angola taking over as SADC Chairperson for the coming year, the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, was elected as the next Chairperson.

The summit also honoured with a medal, one of SADC founders, the late Sir Seretse Khama, who was represented by his son and former President of Botswana, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

The recognition is part of the implementation of the Mechanism in Honour of the SADC Founders for their role, legacy and contribution to SADC. sardc.net

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