Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SADC Chaiperson's Remarks By President Mutharika on Aug 17, 2014

Your Majesty, King Mswati III, of the Kingdom of Swaziland;
  • Your Excellency, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Deputy Chairperson of SADC, and our Gracious Host;
  • Your Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia, and Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation;
  • Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government here present,
  • Your Excellencies First Spouses;
  • Your Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission;
  • Your Excellency Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, Executive Secretary of SADC;
  • Your Excellency Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank;
  • Your Excellency Dr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA);
  • Your Excellencies Deputy Executive Secretaries of SADC and all officials from the SADC Secretariat;
  • Members of the Press;
  • Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
I am very pleased to stand before you on this auspicious occasion of the Official Opening of the 34th Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government being held here in the magnificent Victoria Falls, one of the wonders of the world.
Allow me at the outset, to express my utmost appreciation to the Government and the people of Zimbabwe, through you, Mr. President, for the warm welcome and excellent hospitality that has been extended to our various delegations upon and since our arrival in the Mighty Victoria Falls.
Your Majesty, Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Before I go further, I would be failing in my duties not to express my sincere gratitude to the SADC Heads of State and Government for having accorded Malawi the rare opportunity to preside over the affairs of the region as your Chairperson.
Following the Tripartite Elections in May, 2014, I took over the mantle of leadership of our regional bloc. I want to thank SADC and individual SADC heads of state and Governments for the support you gave to Malawi during our last election. Democracy and the rule of law finally prevailed and Malawi is once again on the path towards reconstruction. I cherish deeply the support and guidance you have accorded to me, as the “New Kid on the Block.”
Your Majesty, Your Excellencies; Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen;
During Malawi’s tenure as the Chairperson of SADC, immense strides were made with the pursuance of the regional socio-economic development agenda.  It is gratifying to note that the consolidation of the SADC Free-Trade Area remains on course, and negotiations for the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free-Trade Area are at an advanced stage, paving the way for finalisation, in 2016, as well as laying the foundation for the Continental Free Trade Area.
The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit is scheduled for October, 2014, at which we shall have the opportunity to review progress with the implementation of the Tripartite programme to date, and provide further guidance to this process. It is important that we keep the momentum in the tripartite negotiations because it is one of the key building blocks of achieving Continental Integration.
Within SADC, it is critical that we continue to strengthen the industrialisation in our countries, through the implementation of the key facets of our “Industrialisation Pillar.” We adopted the SADC Industrial Development Policy Framework as a vehicle for the transformation of our economies in terms of employment and wealth creation; boosting of value based exports, as well as addressing the long standing challenge of trade imbalance among our Member States.  I am excited to note that the theme of the Incoming Chairperson seeks to strengthen this initiative. I encourage the Region to rally behind the Chairperson, to ensure successful implementation of this painful but necessary process.
In the area of infrastructure development, and following the adoption of the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan in Maputo in August 2012, the process of marketing our projects has been intensified.  We, however, need to redouble our efforts to allocate local resources for investment in infrastructure if we are to scale up implementation of agreed priority projects. Of particular concern is the urgent need to address power shortfalls in the region, and provision of trade related infrastructure, namely; transport infrastructure, border facilitation measures and elimination of notorious Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs).
Your Majesty, Your Excellencies; Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Pursuant to the implementation of the Dar-Es-Salaam Declaration on Food Security and Agriculture, which was approved in 2003, Malawi adopted, as a Theme for the tenure of office “Agricultural Development and Agro-Industries: Key to Economic Growth and Poverty Eradication,” as theme for her tenure of office. In this regard, I am pleased to report that we worked closely with the Secretariat, the Members States and other parties on a programme, which is aimed at addressing food security and malnutrition in the region, especially amongst the women and the young children of the Region.  In line with this mandate, the Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Food Security, and the Ministers responsible for Health, met in July, 2014 in Lilongwe, Malawi, to consider and approve the SADC Strategy on Food and Nutrition Security for 2015-2020, focusing on empowerment of women and the youth.
The Strategy which will be tabled for Your Excellencies’ consideration, today is expected to contribute towards the attainment of the objectives of the SADC Common Agenda as stipulated in the SADC Treaty of 1992; the 15-year Strategic                   Roadmap; the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan adopted in 2003; and the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, which called for the implementation of a series of short and long term measures to strengthen sectoral cooperation among SADC Member States and the Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP). We are grateful for the support that we received in rolling out this programme and related interventions.
During the year under review, we continued to push for empowerment of women, reduced gender based violence and gender mainstreaming.  Based on our Regional Score Card, SADC Member States are still far from attaining the targets that have been agreed at both the continental and regional levels. It is, therefore, critical that we continue to work together, supported by our own peer review, to ensure that gender equality and women empowerment reach acceptable levels.
 Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen;
One of the most critical aspects of the SADC Agenda in the last year has been the Review of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan. It is heartening to note that the Secretariat and the Member States accorded this process the priority it deserved.  The outcomes of the Review shall be tabled before the Summit. What is important going forward is the fact that we should rally around the priorities identified by the review. I am convinced that these are priorities that will make the most impact on our regional objectives.
However, what is more important is to ensure that such priority interventions are adequately resourced. It is for this reason that more efforts need to be targeted towards the establishment of the SADC Regional Development Fund. I am more than convinced that the Fund will help us mobilise own resources which will assist us to achieve our dream of a “common future”. What we need is the strong will to achieve SADC’s common destiny.
Our experience in the last year suggested that the Secretariat is under-resourced and, therefore, underperforming. Again going forward, we need to scale up on allocations for key programme related activities.  In return, we expect that the Secretariat, under the watchful eye of the Council, shall utilise these resources in an optimal and cost efficient manner.
Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen;
On the political front, the Chairperson of the Organ will give a detailed report, However, let me briefly say that as part of our mediation efforts, the long process of dialogue and preparation for elections in the Republic of Madagascar culminated in democratic elections in that country and we feel proud as SADC, that a democratically elected government is now in place and the focus in that country has since shifted to economic development aimed at improving the quality of lives of the people of Madagascar.  I call upon all our Member States to work together with the Government of Madagascar in its effort in rebuilding the country and ensure its economic transformation.  We are also proud to note that, as part of our continued efforts to consolidate our democracy, the Republic of South Africa and Malawi held successful elections during our term. We feel proud that the region continues to live up to expectations and commitments democratically.
Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen;
The region continued to enjoy peace and security. The situation in Eastern part of the Democratic Congo has improved. The disbanding of the M23 was a milestone in the effort of SADC and the United Nations to have peace in that part of the country. The contribution of the brigades by my country, Tanzania and South Africa has contributed to this success story. SADC’s contribution in 2013 to the efforts of bringing Madagascar to political normalcy resulting in the re-admission of the country into the African Union and SADC. We, as SADC, should be proud of this achievement.
As I handover the Chairmanship of the Organisation to His Excellency, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, I urge all of us to remain committed to the ideals and principles of the SADC Treaty. In this regard, I call upon you to render the usual support to the Government of Zimbabwe in fulfilling this enormous but doable mandate.
It is my singular honour and privilege to declare the 34th Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government Officially Opened.
I wish you excellent and fruitful deliberations at this Summit, and God Bless SADC, God Bless Africa.

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