Morris Mkwate in VICTORIA FALLS
The new sadc Council of Ministers chairman and Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has called on members of the regional bloc to implement agreed developmental programmes and consider fewer initiatives with a high implementation rate.
Addressing the council, which he assumed leadership of here yesterday, Minister Mumbengegwi said Southern Africans expected their leaders to improve the quality of their lives through rapid development.
He was optimistic that the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) review would trim the number of programmes on sadc’s plate, with prospects of speedy implementation.
The RISDP aims to provide strategic direction on regional programmes, especially in areas such as energy, infrastructure, transport and tourism.
“The common question our peoples continue to ask is, ‘What is sadc doing to uplift the quality of their lives and rid them of poverty, underdevelopment and other social ills?’
“Clearly, we have a responsibility and, indeed, an obligation to answer their question. The answer cannot be an event; it has to be a process, a process that is inclusive of all our member states, a process that is inclusive of all our peoples,” he said.
Minister Mumbengegwi said sadc could easily catapult itself to the ranks of the world’s richest regions on account of its vast natural resources, which now require value addition and beneficiation.
He thanked the grouping for ensuring regional peace and stability with recent successes being mediating in Zimbabwe’s inter-party talks that led to the formation of the inclusive Government, a constitutional referendum and, subsequently, the July 31 2013 harmonised elections.
Minister Mumbengegwi also cited interventions in Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo which culminated in credible elections and the defeat of M23 rebels, respectively.
In addition, sadc has improved women empowerment, gender equality and mainstreaming, and the election of executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax to that post is a major highlight.
Dr George Chaponda, Malawi’s Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Minister, handed over the Council chairmanship to Minister Mumbengegwi and pledged support to Zimbabwe throughout its leadership of sadc.
He said plans to develop industry and agriculture would help leverage the regional grouping’s proposed theme “sadc Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition”.
“Our performance during our tenure could have been futile had it not been for the unreserved and generous support we received from the sadc family,” said Dr Chaponda.
“In turn, my Government pledges its commitment to provide our unwavering support to the incoming chairperson to ensure that sadc delivers on its mandate.”
Zimbabwe is hosting the 34th Ordinary Summit of sadc Heads of State and Government where President Mugabe will assume the chairmanship of the regional bloc on Sunday.