Zuma arrives back in SA after SADC Summit wraps up

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has arrived back in South Africa after attending the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

During the summit, President Jacob Zuma handed over the SADC Chairmanship to DRC President Joseph Kabila. He held a consultation meeting with Kabila before delivering his handover statement to the summit.

During the summit, the President highlighted the challenges met and gains made during South Africa's chairpersonship.

He said that the milestone signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in Zimbabwe had signalled to the people of that country, the region and the world that the Zimbabwean political leadership was committed to tackling the political and socio-economic challenges facing the country.

President Zuma formally presented his personal impression on Zimbabwe, following his recent visit to the country. He said it was important to continue supporting the country through SADC for the economic reconstruction of Zimbabwe and also the lifting of sanctions.

He noted the efforts in resolving the Madagascar political situation, as well as the appointment of former Mozambique President, Joaquim Chissano, to facilitate the dialogue among the Malagasy people to establish a new unity government.

The President also noted the gains made through the Organ on Defence, Peace and Security Cooperation in negotiating and securing peace in the eastern part of the DRC.

Zuma also touched on the progress in economic development and integration following the launch of the SADC Free Trade Area (SADC FTA) in South Africa last year.

He reiterated the need to ensure that the SADC FTA is fully consolidated. Particular to this President Zuma highlighted the need to for a more concerted focus on strengthening the productive capacity within SADC.

The South African delegation to the summit included International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoane Mashabane, Minister of Agriculture, Tina Joemat-Petterson and Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Bongi Ntuli.

An official SADC Communique is expected to be released later today.

President Zuma will attend an ordinary Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. On Thursday he will meet with Swedish Prime Minister, Frederick Reinfeldt, who will be on an official visit to South Africa.