Motlanthe to chair SADC summit on Madagascar, Zim

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mbanane - President Kgalema Motlanthe will later this morning chair the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit, to discuss the economic recovery plan for Zimbabwe, as well as the political and security situation in Madagascar.

Leaders of the 15-member SADC are holding this special summit in Ezulwini, outside Swaziland's capital Mbanane, one week after Madagascar's opposition-leader Andry Rajoelina took over the government in a military-backed transfer of power.

"The SADC summit is expected to deliberate upon proposals to assist Madagasacar to return to democracy, the rule of law and constitutionality," said the Department of Foreign Affairs on Sunday, adding that the crisis in Madagascar would be high on Monday's agenda.

This followed the resignation of then-President Marc Ravalomanana after weeks of strikes and demonstrations in which more than 100 people died.

During the meeting, the SADC Troika on politics, defence and security; as well as a report on the recent visit by SADC Executive Secretary Dr Tomaz Salomao to Madagascar will be presented.

On Zimbabwe, the summit is expected to present a proposal to the Heads of State and government on the economic recovery plan for that country.

The proposal is based on recommendations by SADC finance ministers on how to help Zimbabwe extricate itself from its current economic challenges.

President Robert Mugabe will be attending the summit accompanied by Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

In February, the SADC agreed to seek donor help to rebuild Zimbabwe's ruined economy, putting the initial need at $2 billion.

Today, SADC countries are likely to further urge Western states to remove sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

A new unity government formed by Mr Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai has given Zimbabweans hope of economic recovery.

However, Western powers, which accuse Mr Mugabe of human rights abuses and election rigging, are reluctant to pour in aid while he remains Head of State which makes it difficult for the country to recover.

The summit is expected to end later today.