Tshisekedi throws weight behind SADC Vision 2050
By Kizito Sikuka in Kinshasa, DRC
He spoke with passion and clarity – the Democratic Republic of Congo will continue to push ahead with the longstanding regional goals of a united, prosperous and integrated community.
President Felix Tshisekedi of the DRC is the new Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), having taken over the role, which is rotated on an annual basis from President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi at the 42nd Ordinary Summit of Head of State and Government in Kinshasa, DRC.
In his acceptance speech, Tshisekedi told the Summit that the region is a global force that needs to maintain and strengthen its profile to ensure that it remains relevant to its citizens.
The region, he said, belongs to the people, and citizens must therefore enjoy and see the benefits of a shared community in southern Africa.
“As DRC takes over the chair of SADC, I want to reassure you that the country will and in the same vein continue the work, and count on the support of all Member States to achieve the goals set by our founding fathers,” Tshisekedi said.
The main priority of the DRC as chair of SADC will be ensuring that Member States implement and domesticate all regional strategic documents including SADC Vison 2050 and the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030.
The SADC Vision 2050 envisions a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle-to-high income industrialized region, where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic wellbeing, justice and freedom.
On the other hand, the SADC RISDP (2020-2030) is the regional plan which prioritizes regional integration issues of infrastructure development, industrial development and market integration, social and human capital development and other crosscutting issues including the environment, climate change, disaster risk management, gender and youth empowerment.
“The DRC affirms its commitment to supporting the implementation of programmes and projects included in the RISDP (2020-30) as inspired by the SADC Vision 2050,” he said
“Our dear Community, therefore, gives itself the mission of promoting the growth, sustainable and equitable economic development, socio-economic development through efficient production systems, strengthening cooperation and integration, good governance, sustainable peace and security, so that the region establishes itself as a competitive and effective player on the scene internationally and within the global economy.”
Actively pushing implementation of infrastructure projects to stimulate integration and eradicate poverty in the SADC region, including the promotion of value chains in the region will be another of the DRC’s top priorities.
“During my tenure, I will work to promote industrialization through agro-processing, the valorization of minerals and regional value chains, to achieve growth, [based on an] inclusive and sustainable economy, working in concert with the Member States, the private sector and development partners,” he said.
The SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP) is another important strategic document for the region that requires action, as infrastructure development is an essential element for the economic growth of the region
On the political situation in eastern DRC, Tshisekedi said his country and SADC as well as other partners are working closely to address the situation.
The eastern DRC slid back into instability when a rebel group known as M23 resumed its terrorist attacks reneging on the pact of December 2013 to stop such revolts.
The DRC has accused Rwanda of sponsoring the M23, and SADC is thus expected to come up with ways of resolving the situation, including engaging Rwanda with the aim of urging the country to stop any military support to the M23 rebels.
“We want to thank SADC for its solidarity with the Congolese people, at a time when our country is a victim of cowardly and barbaric aggression on the part of its neighbour Rwanda,” Tshisekedi said.
At the Summit, the President, HE Dr Hage Geingob took over as chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation from his South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The SADC Organ on Politics Defence and Security Cooperation is managed on a Troika basis and is responsible for promoting peace and security in the SADC region.
The SADC Summit Troika and the Organ Troika are separate bodies, and the Chairperson of the Organ does not simultaneously hold the chair of Summit, but both positions rotate on an annual basis.
Southern African News Features are produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), based in Harare. www.sardc.net