SANF 19 no 34 – by Kumbirai Nhongo in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
The SADC Council of Ministers has recommended the adoption of kiSwahili as the fourth official language of the regional body alongside English, French and Portuguese.
In his briefing to the media, the Chairperson of the SADC Council, who is also Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi noted that, kiSwahili would be adopted at the level of Council and Summit, first as a language for oral communication, before eventually being adopted for written official communication within SADC.
KiSwahili is an official language of the African Union and the lingua franca in most of east Africa and parts of central and southern Africa.
This is part of several other recommendations that the SADC Council has submitted for consideration by the Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government, set for 17-18 August 2019 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The ratification of the SADC Protocol on Industry, a legal instrument that aims to improve the policy environment for industrial development and growth, is also among the recommendations submitted by Council to the 39th SADC Summit for consideration.
Once ratified, the SADC Protocol on Industry will strengthen the framework under which the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) adopted in April 2015 in Harare, Zimbabwe, will be implemented.
“Industrialisation is now the focus of all the 16 members of SADC, where we believe that without industrialisation, we will not be able to sustainably develop our countries and our region,” said Kabudi.
Furthermore, Council has recommended for SADC to strengthen initiatives that accelerate the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Kabudi noted that the advent of a new dispensation and the successful holding of elections in Zimbabwe in 2018, in which Emmerson Mnangagwa was elected President, makes the continued existence of such sanctions unnecessary.
“Sanctions in Zimbabwe are causing damage and negative effects to children and women who are innocent, so we are recommending to the Summit to have a concerted effort of ensuring that those sanctions are removed.”
In March 2019, the United States government extended sanctions against Zimbabwe by another year, stating that the policies of the Zimbabwe government continue to pose “unusual and extraordinary” threats to American foreign policy.
In addition, the European Union has imposed travel restrictions and frozen the personal assets of high ranking officials within the government of Zimbabwe.
The 39th SADC Summit, which is running under the theme “A Conducive Environment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, Increased Intra-Regional Trade and Job Creation,” will see President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli of Tanzania assume the rotating SADC chair from his Namibian counterpart, President Hage Geingob.
Tanzania last chaired SADC from 2003 to 2004, during the tenure of then President Benjamin William Mkapa.
In line with the 39th SADC Summit theme, Kabudi emphasised that SADC shall continue to prioritise youth empowerment through job creation, given the importance of this demographic group, to the region’s developmental agenda.
“About 60 percent of the population of our countries in the SADC region are young people – youth; and the only way to have sustainable development is to make sure that our youth are employed, are employable or they can employ themselves.”
He said that the implementation of the 39th SADC Summit theme will involve steps to increase intra-regional trade which has been in decline since 2017.
Figures from the SADC Secretariat show that during the period 2017 to 2018, intra-SADC imports as a percentage of total imports declined from 21.5 to 20.6 percent.
During the same period, intra-SADC exports as a percentage of the total intra-SADC exports declined from 24.7 to 22.4 percent.
“It is our objective to increase intra-trade among ourselves, where industries within the region will not only produce for consumption in their respective countries but also for consumption in the entire region,” he said. sardc.net