Newly elected leaders from southern Africa gave similar messages of support when they delivered their maiden speeches to the just-ended 35th Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government held in Gaborone, Botswana.
The message was clear – “we will continue with the work of our predecessors in pushing forward the regional integration agenda of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).”
Presidents; Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, Hage Geingob of Namibia, and Edgar Lungu of Zambia as well as Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho said in their maiden speeches that they will remain committed to the ideals of SADC.
The ideals of SADC are towards a common future within a regional community that will ensure economic well-being, improvement of standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice, and peace and security for the people of southern Africa. Since its formation as the Southern Africa Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) in Lusaka, Zambia, in April 1980, to the transformation to SADC in 1992, southern Africa has sought to achieve these goals and demonstrate the benefits of working together.
President Lungu, who took over power this year after a presidential by-election following the death of former Zambian president Michael Sata in 2014, said cooperation among SADC member states has promoted stability in the region, which is a prerequisite for socio-economic development.
“In keeping with its charter, our regional community is thriving and continues to enjoy peace while taking definitive steps towards regional integration and development as espoused in the SADC Treaty,” Lungu said.
“My government, therefore, remains fully committed to the implementation and realization of all SADC protocols and programmes.”
His Mozambican counterpart, President Nyusi, concurred, saying that the new generation of SADC leaders has a responsibility to carry on with the legacy of the founding fathers of SADC.
“Yesterday we began the liberation struggle against the last redoubts of colonialism, under the aegis of the Front Line States, and then we advanced to the creation of the SADCC,” said Nyusi, who took over from Armando Guebuza this year following national elections in late 2014.
“Today our activity in SADC grants primacy to regional integration, sustained by the preservation of peace, security, regional stability and development.”
Prime Minister Mosisili, who has served previously in the same capacity, said that without SADC support, Lesotho could be experiencing more serious challenges.
He said SADC is an important organization that should always remain strong to advance socio-economic growth in the region.
“To us in Lesotho, SADC remains a vital instrument for articulating and promoting the region’s collective aspirations for political cooperation and economic integration, deepening of democracy, observance of rule of law, as well as waging a relentless war against poverty, underdevelopment and the scourge of HIV and AIDS in the region.”
“I wish to reiterate the unreserved commitment of Lesotho to the ideals and principles of SADC and to work closely will all member states of our regional organization in pursuit of the noble goals of unity, solidarity, and cooperation among our people,” said Mosisili, who was elected in February this year.
President Geingob said SADC has come a long way, and achievements recorded since its formation show that the region stands to benefit more from working together rather than in isolation.
“We have a lot to celebrate in SADC. Our people are free from the yoke of colonial rule and a strong democratic culture has been entrenched in our countries,” he said.
Geingob succeeded Hifikepunye Pohamba in March following elections in November 2014.
He said it is critical for SADC member states to continue working together and consolidate the gains realized so far.
“I believe that if we continue to pull together in the spirit of Harambee, we will achieve our objective of an industrialized and prosperous region.”
The 35th SADC Summit, which was held on 17-18 August, ran under the theme “Accelerating Industrialization of SADC Economies, Through Transformation of Natural Endowment and Improved Human Capital.”
The theme continued the trajectory of the previous summit held last year in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, which focused on economic transformation and sustainable development “through beneficiation and value addition”.
The summit ended with a strong call for member states to implement all the agreed regional projects, programmes and activities within the stipulated timeframes.
The next SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government is scheduled for August 2016 in the Kingdom of Swaziland.