Paradigm shift expected as Khama takes over

A major paradigm shift is expected in the Southern African Development Community political affairs with the appointment of the confrontational Botswana President Seretse Ian Khama last week.

While most of the presidents in Sadc are seen as rather diplomatic Kham has in the past caused a storm when he has openly challenged the electoral process in Zimbabwe. The regional body last resolved to scale up implementation of regional infrastructure as a key enabler to economic integration.

The resolution was made during the Heads of States 35th summit held in Gaborone  on 17 and 18 August. It took place under the theme: “Accelerating Industrialisation of SADC Economies through Transformation of Natural Endowment and improved Human Capital.”

Among the attendees where President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana, King Mswati III of Swaziland, President Hery Rajaonarimampianina of Madagascar, President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of Mozambique, Namibian President Dr. Hage Geingob, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, Zambia’s, President Edgar Lungu, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Lesotho’s Prime Minister Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili, Angola’s vice-President Manuel Vicente, Seychelles’ vice-President Danny Faure and the United Republic of  Tanzania’s Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda.

In a communiqué sent to the media, the summit highlighted amongst its successes the progress made with regard to representation of women in political and decision making positions. SADC commended member states that have achieved high female representation at state leadership, legislature and judiciary levels, and other senior positions both in public and private sector.

Another highlighted achievement was recorded through the addressing the burden of HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria. To this end, Summit directed the Secretariat to monitor the situation and coordinate the necessary regional interventions with Member States in order to ensure that HIV and AIDS is no longer a threat to public health.

The summit also noted a decline in the regional food security situation in overall cereal production and availability, largely due to unfavourable weather condition which were characterised by prolonged dry spells, floods and cyclones.  

As a result, the region will require food and other humanitarian assistance during 2015/2016 marketing year. Member states were urged to continue implementing the Regional Agriculture Policy and relevant protocols in order to improve agricultural production and food security.

The summit received a report of the outgoing Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Zuma, and they commended him for successfully steering the SADC Organ on politics, defense and security cooperation during his tenure.
During the summit a significant improvement in the security situation in Democratic Republic of Congo, coupled with strengthening of Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) operational capabilities and the need to support the progressive downsizing of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) troops in DRC, was also noted, with the international community being urged to support the administration of the transit camps in DRC, and facilitate the repatriation to Rwanda of the already disarmed ex-combatants or their resettlement in a third country.

They took the opportunity to re-affirm the approved terms of reference of the commission of Inquiry and strongly urged the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to gazette the terms of reference of the commission as approved. The communique also noted that the summit is cognisant that terrorism is a global threat and that the region needs to have a common and coordinated approach to prevent and combat acts of international and domestic terrorism, they therefore approved the SADC Regional Counter Terrorism Strategy.
They noted the critical role played by macroeconomic convergence programme in facilitating stability and deepening market and financial integration, and urged member states to intensify and consistently implement regional policies and programmes as well as member states’ economic reforms, plans and strategies to resolve the challenges affecting SADC economies for sustainable growth path. In the area of climate change, the ummit underscored the need for the region to continue to work with all progressive partners to ensure the protection of the planet and strive to build consensus on a continental basis in preparation for COP 21 to be held in Paris, France, in December, 2015.

A resolution to the establish the Southern African Development Community Administrative Tribunal (SADCAT) and the Declaration on Youth Development and Empowerment in SADC was approved and the Secretariat was directed to develop a mechanism to honour the legacy of the SADC Founding Fathers, to be submitted for consideration at the next Ordinary Summit.

Lastly, the summit further endorsed international calls for the United Kingdom to expeditiously end its unlawful occupation of the Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia, with a view to enabling Mauritius to effectively exercise its sovereignty over the Archipelago, without which the full decolonisation of Africa is not complete.