SADC countries urged to make integration a reality

Monday, August 14, 2017

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and SADC executive secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax have cautioned that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional integration will remain theory unless member states-start to implement concrete plans to move together as one region.

The two briefed the media on Monday ahead of the SADC summit taking place in Tshwane this coming weekend.

“We need to ensure that as a region we move with one voice otherwise regional integration will remain theory,” Tax said.

South Africa will take over from Swaziland as the chairperson of the regional body and the country will oversee the celebrations of SADC’s 25 years of existence. Deliberations will be kick-started by a meeting of ministers on Tuesday and Wednesday who will prepare several reports for the Heads of State Summit taking place on Saturday and Sunday. The Council of Ministers oversees the functioning and development of our Community, SADC, and ensures that policies are properly implemented. The Council consists of Ministers from each of the fifteen Member States, usually from the Ministries of foreign affairs, economic planning, or finance, and it meets twice a year in February or March and immediately prior to the Summit in August or September.

Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo are likely to be under the spotlight in the discussions on peace and security. The Ministerial Committee of the organ on Politics, Defence and Security cooperation and the ORGAN Troika will meet on Friday.

Both countries have been plagued by political instability where even killings have taken place as in the case of Lesotho. On Monday, Tax said the regional body will continue to support countries in conflict and these include Lesotho and the DRC. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was appointed as SADC Facilitator in Lesotho ahead of the elections in that country.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane also confirmed on Monday that to commemorate SADC historic founding, the current Chairperson of SADC King Mswati III of Swaziland, will deliver the SADC Day Message for 2017 on Wednesday.

The Heads of State on Saturday are expected to endorse the theme for the 37th Summit which has been chosen as: “Partnering with the Private Sector in Developing Industry and Regional Value Chains”. South Africa, as the incoming chair, proposed the theme and will be presented to the summit for its approval and subsequent operationalisation.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said the council of ministers will receive progress on actions undertaken by the Secretariat in implementing the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063. 

“Council will also receive and review the proposed Milestones for Monitoring Implementation of the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap for approval by Summit,” she said.

The Council will also receive reports on the findings of the exercise on profiling of the mineral and pharmaceutical sectors and identification of potential areas for the development of value chains. SADC has identified at least six value chain clusters in the fields of Agro-processing, Mineral beneficiation and related mining operations, pharmaceuticals, other consumer goods, capital goods and services.

The Council on Tuesday will also receive progress on the operationalisation of the SADC University of Transformation, following the meeting of the Committee on Higher Education, Training and Research earlier this year.

At the time, the council observed that the concept of the SADC University of Transformation has the potential to address the provision of appropriate skills required for value addition, in the three agreed value chains of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap. 

The Council will receive and consider the Report of the SADC Executive Secretary for the period 2016-2017 which includes the overview of the political and economic developments in the region and the implementation of programmes of regional cooperation and integration.

On continental integration, the Council will receive progress on the implementation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area, the COMESA-EAC-SADC Agreement; and Continental Free Trade Area negotiations.

“The Council will consider the Draft SADC Common Position on the negotiations of the Draft Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment,” said the minister.

The Council will also recommend for approval by Summit, the convening of the SADC Solidarity Conference with Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR)/Western Sahara.

The Summit on Saturday will also consider the application by the Union of Comoros and the Republic of Burundi for membership of SADC.  –