SA confident of Congo's SADC chairmanship

Monday, August 31, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa is confident of the hand over of the chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

SADC's current Vice Chairman Joseph Kabila and President of the DRC will take over the chairmanship when the regional bloc meets on 7 an 8 September in Kinshasa.

Director General in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, said there had been fears that President Kabila would not be "tough" on issues such as Zimbabwe.

He said SADC is very clear about its policies on Zimbabwe.

"A roadmap is already there, so it a matter of implementation and addressing the challenges. Even when we face difficulties among ourselves, the culture of SADC is to discuss and chart a way forward. This will nit change with the DRC taking over," said Dr Ntsaluba.

He added that South Africa would continue, as the outgoing chair, to work closely with the DRC and lend its support.

"The DRC have there own domestic challenges, however, sometimes responsibility is what it takes to strengthen a country," said Dr Ntsaluba

He reiterated that there were clear signs that Zimbabwe was on the road to recovery.

However, the challenge "we now face is to ensure that the country's recovery is completed in the shortest space of time".

He said while there were still challenges, a number of successes had also been recorded. There has also been progress in the country's social economic, humanitarian situation.

As part of efforts to encourage the implementation of the government of unity, South African President, Jacob Zuma, met with Zimbabwe's leadership last week. The parties agreed on the need to speed up implementation and to find solutions to the current points of disagreement.

"An important factor is that there was commitment among all parties, which will make the movement forward possible," said Dr Ntsaluba.