Four new presidents address SADC summit for the first time
By Kizito Sikuka in Windhoek.
If it were not for the official programme which clearly indicated “Maiden Speeches”, no one would have known that presidents João Lourenço of Angola, Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe addressed the SADC Summit in Windhoek for the first time.
The four presidents spoke with authority and exhibited good knowledge on regional integration and the need to continue pushing forward the ideals of the Founding Fathers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In fact, two of the leaders, namely Ramaphosa and Lourenço, were already serving in two of the most senior positions in SADC. Ramaphosa is the former chairperson while Lourenço was the chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, responsible for promoting peace and security in the region.
Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa said regional integration is key to sustainable development, and Zimbabwe remains committed to playing its part in advancing the common goals of SADC, adding that it continues to count on the support and solidarity from SADC in championing its own development trajectory.
“I wish to assure you of Zimbabwe’s full commitment and support for the objectives of our organisation, SADC, in particular the region’s agenda for regional integration, industrialisation, sustainable economic development, peace, security, democracy and good governance. Let us continue to work together to make SADC the pride of Africa,” he said.
South Africa’s President Ramaphosa concurred, saying it is “only through collective action and shared accountability that the region will achieve its longstanding goal of a united, prosperous and integrated SADC. In promoting our own national objectives, South Africa values the critical role SADC plays as an instrument of regional development and integration.”
Ramaphosa said his country is “firmly committed to play its part in building a better SADC, a better Africa and a better world.”
Botswana’s President Masisi paid special tribute to the Founding Fathers of SADC, saying the region is enjoying their vision and dedication. “I wish to take this opportunity to pledge my unwavering commitment to the SADC regional integration agenda,” he said.
He said a lot of benefits have been realized by the region, especially in areas such as trade and peace and security adding that it is critical to implement all “agreed SADC priorities and principles to improve the livelihoods of our people.”
Angola’s President Lourenço said the consolidation and promotion of peace in southern Africa is pivotal to ensure that the regional integration agenda is a success. During his tenure as chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Angola focused on addressing some pockets of instability so that the peace dividend in SADC is enjoyed by all member states.
The “Maiden Speeches” session is accorded to all Heads of State and Government who attend the summit for the first time, providing them with an opportunity to address the summit and give a detailed overview of their vision for regional integration and development.
The 38th Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government was held under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development.”
At the summit, Namibian President, HE Dr Hage Geingob took over the SADC chair from President Ramaphosa.
Southern African News Features are produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985. Website and Virtual Library for Southern Africa at www.sardc.net