Monday, 17 August 2015

President hands over Sadc chairmanship.

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday handed over the chairmanship of Sadc to his Botswana counterpart Lieutenant-General (Retired) Seretse Khama Ian Khama who pledged to pursue the agenda set for the regional bloc at last year’s summit in Victoria Falls. Shortly before midday at the Gaborone International Convention Centre, President Mugabe gave Lt-Gen Khama, who has been deputising him, the chairman’s badge, ceremonially marking the end of his own tenure.

President Mugabe assumed the Sadc chairmanship at the 34th Sadc Summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in August last year and has been driving the industrialisation agenda for the region.
President Mugabe hands over the instruments of office to new Sadc chairman Lieutenant-General (Retired) Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana yesterday. — (Picture by Presidential photographer Joseph Nyadzayo)
Lt-Gen Khama immediately paid tribute to President Mugabe and pledged to pursue the ambitious agenda he set over the past year for stronger regional integration and faster industrialisation.

In his keynote address, President Mugabe reflected on his successful tenure, which saw the region adopting an industrialisation roadmap and the search for greater unity.

“Since the 34th Summit held in Victoria Falls, we have continued to work resolutely towards the realisation of our vision to transform Sadc into an independent, prosperous and self-sustaining region,” said President Mugabe.

“To this end, the extraordinary Summit in Harare, in April this year, adopted the Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, which has laid a firm foundation for the economic growth and development of our region.”

President Mugabe said the strategy and roadmap was “only the beginning of a long journey” if Sadc were to achieve the industrialisation dream.

He urged the Sadc secretariat to finalise the costing exercise for the industrialisation plan and ensure its speedy implementation and challenged the private sector and other stakeholders to partner governments in the endeavour.

President Mugabe said adoption of the regional development blueprint, dubbed Sadc Revised Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020), mainstreaming industrial development into the masterplan and prioritisation of the industrialisation pillar, would enhance regional integration.

On the political front, President Mugabe commended the region for its exemplary outlook underpinned by stability.

“Our region continues to exhibit political maturity and remains a shining beacon of democracy on the continent,” President Mugabe said, commending Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia and Zambia for conducting credible elections during his tenure.

President Mugabe said the peace and stability enjoyed in the region were not a fortuitous occurrence but a product of collective and deliberate efforts by regional leaders.

He commended the chairperson of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa for their role in mediating peace in the troubled mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.

The veteran statesman also rallied the region to assist the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar, the region’s other flashpoints, to find peaceful ways to resolve challenges they faced.

In his acceptance speech, President Khama heaped praise on President Mugabe, crediting him for the industrialisation agenda the region has adopted.

“During his tenure, Sadc adopted the industrialisation strategy and roadmap and I think it is true to say that it indeed was his idea that we embark on this as well as the Revised Regional Indicative Strategy Development Plan that the extraordinary summit held in Harare in April of this year (adopted),” he said.

“There is no doubt that this has reshaped the pace and course of our region in our quest to maximise the beneficiation of our natural resources as a way of creating a better life for our people.”
Lt-Gen Khama said it was imperative for the region to expedite implementation of the Sadc industrialisation strategy and roadmap.

“To this end, the summit is appropriately being held under the theme, ‘Accelerating the industrialisation of Sadc economies through transformation of natural endowments and improved human capital’,” he said.

“The current trade imbalances within the Sadc region are reason enough for us to expedite and jump-start efforts towards industrialisation and development, particularly with regard to the creation of value chains.

“In this way, the more advanced and industrialised economies amongst us can assist the least advanced and small, vulnerable economies to leverage on them to also increase their productive capacities. In turn, this will create jobs and thus reducing labour mobility and concentration in one or two economies in the region.”

Lt-Gen Khama applauded the creation of the Comesa, East African Community, Sadc Tripartite Free Trade Area which he said should promote increased trade among African states, currently viewed as negligible.

He expresed regret that African countries were still exporters of primary raw materials due to low levels of industrialisation.

President Khama called on the region to focus attention on peace and security, poverty alleviation, eradication of HIV and Aids and climate change.

The summit is expected to end today with the signing of legal instruments, while Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete will kiss goodbye to the region as he is stepping down in October at the end of his term.

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