SADC makes far-reaching decisions on integration and security

SANF 21 no 31 – by Clarkson Mambo
The Southern African Development Community has made far-reaching decisions aimed at driving socio-economic development by deepening integration through industrialisation and ensuring continued peace and security in the region.

The measures are contained in a communique released soon after the 41st SADC Summit held in Lilongwe, Malawi on 17-18 August.

In line with its push on industrialisation, the Summit endorsed the theme, “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic, for Inclusive, Sustainable Economic and Industrial Transformation.”

“The theme takes forward the implementation of SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063 with a specific focus on enhancing regional productive capacities,” said outgoing Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, who read the communique.

Under the strategy, SADC is aiming for more investment and diversification to boost performance of its manufacturing sector to produce and sell more processed goods.

The initial target is to double the share of manufactured goods the region produces and sells to 30 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030 and to 40 percent by 2050.

But to aid the region’s growth and development agenda, SADC has said peace and security is the cornerstone.

And to this end, the 41st Summit endorsed an Action Plan for the Implementation of Security Threats Report and urged Member States to implement interventions contained in the plan.

The leaders also received an update on the security situation in Cabo Delgado Province in the northern part of the Republic of Mozambique and commended SADC Member States for pledging personnel and providing financial support towards the deployment of SADC Standby Force to Mozambique.

Dr Tax presented the instruments of authority for deployment of the SADC Standby Force to Mozambique on 16 July 2021, in what marked a significant step in the regional effort to combat terrorism and violent extremism.

In relation to this, the Summit noted that an Agreement Amending the SADC Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials, and an Agreement regarding the Status of the SADC Standby Force and its components deployed within the region for purposes of training, peace support operation, exercises and humanitarian assistance were going to be signed by Member States who were ready to do so.

“Some Members States have already signed the Agreement at this Summit,” Dr Tax said.

In keeping with its objective of ensuring the region is safe and peaceful, the Summit commended the United Republic of Tanzania for offering to host the Regional Counter Terrorism Centre. The Centre will offer dedicated and strategic advisory services to the region on terrorism threats.

Dr Tax said the 41st Summit expressed satisfaction with progress made in the implementation of SADC decisions in the Kingdom of Lesotho after it was briefed by President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who is the SADC appointed facilitator.

“Summit urged the Kingdom of Lesotho to expedite completion of the ongoing reforms and to continue with peace, transitional justice and reconciliation process to engender national unity and bring about national healing and cohesion,” Dr Tax said.

President Ramaphosa’s term as facilitator was extended until the 42nd Summit, which will be hosted by the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Zambia also came under the spotlight at the Summit, with leaders commending the people of Zambia for holding successful elections on August 12 and congratulated H.E. Hakainde Hichilema for winning the elections.

“Summit thanked His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu for his leadership and contribution to SADC development and integration during his tenure as the President of Zambia and for nobly accepting the results of the 2021 presidential elections in the Republic of Zambia,” said Dr Tax.

In a very important decision that expands community participation in SADC, the 41st Summit approved the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament which will be a consultative and deliberative body.

The regional Parliament will provide representation for the SADC citizenry, thereby serving as a valid interlocutor for the needs and desires of the general public.

The Executive is already the main driver of regional integration through intergovernmental institutions at senior officials, ministerial or Heads of State and Government levels.

Turning to other sectors, Dr Tax said the Summit received reports on social-economic overview in the region, regional food and nutrition security, gender and development, HIV and AIDS, and on the implementation of the 40th Summit theme.

The theme, “SADC 40 Years, Building Peace and Security, Promoting Development and Resilience in the Face of Global Challenges,” was implemented under the leadership of the outgoing SADC Chair, President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of Mozambique, who was commended for “his exemplary leadership during his tenure.”

The leaders reaffirmed the region’s position on the creation of the SADC Central Bank and Monetary Union as a long-term objective to be premised on fulfilling preconditions that include the harmonisation of fiscal and monetary policies of SADC countries and greater convergence of banking systems.

Turning to the African Union (AU), the 41st Summit expressed concerns and objected to the unilateral decision taken by the African Commission Union in July 2021 to grant the State of Israel observer status to the AU.

SADC has stood with the State of Palestine in its decades long conflict with Israel and has called for the observance of principles of international law and all relevant United Nations Resolutions calling for the establishment of a Palestinian State based on the June 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital in implementation of the two-State solution.

The Summit of 16 SADC leaders reiterated its call for the unconditional removal of sanctions imposed on the Republic of Zimbabwe, and support for Zimbabwe in the ongoing socio-economic strengthening efforts.

At its 39th Summit held in Tanzania, the regional organisation declared 25 October “as the date on which SADC Member States can collectively voice their disapproval of the sanctions through various activities and platforms until the sanctions are lifted.”

The Summit elected Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, as Chairperson of SADC, and Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo as Incoming Chairperson.

President Ramaphosa was elected as Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, and Dr. Hage Geingob, President of the Republic Namibia as Incoming Chairperson of the Organ.

The Summit appointed a new SADC Executive Secretary, Elias Mpedi Magosi from Botswana, as the new Executive Secretary of SADC.

Magosi replaces Dr Tax who was appointed in 2013 and fully served her two four-year terms.

Dr Tax was commended for “having served the Organisation professionally, diligently, and with high level of competence.”

Host President, Dr Chakwera, described the 41st Summit as “constructive and progressive towards our shared goals of regional integration and economic cooperation.

“This Summit’s landmark resolutions are the impetus that we need to drive the SADC regional integration agenda and address the numerous challenges that we face,” he said.

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