President Mugabe with Sadc Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax in Victoria Falls yesterday where he assumed the Sadc chairmanship
President Mugabe’s acceptance speech after he was elected Sadc chairman in Victoria Falls yesterday.
YOUR Excellencies, Sadc Heads of State and Government, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Executive Secretary of Sadc, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, Honourable Ministers, Sadc Senior Officials, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends.
I feel humbled, and yet greatly honoured, at being appointed the chairman of Sadc.
Being Sadc chair is an honour to me personally, and to the Government and people of Zimbabwe.
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, allow me to begin by paying tribute to Malawi, the outgoing chair of Sadc, which under the able leadership of Her excellency, Dr Joyce Banda, and later, that of our colleague, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, guided the affairs of our organisation.
Let me take this opportunity to welcome our new members to the Sadc family; President Hery Rajaonarimampianina of Madagascar and President Arthur Peter Mutharika of Malawi.
I am sure you all join me in congratulating them for their resounding electoral victories in their respective countries.
I also wish to welcome, Dr Tax, our new Sadc Executive Secretary, and assure her that Zimbabwe is, and will always be, ready to work with her.
As Zimbabwe, we look forward to making our contribution to the Sadc agenda, and are confident that, we can ensure that the region focuses, on interventions that have the greatest impact on the well-being of our citizens.
As Sadc, we should not lose sight of our regional integration agenda, our focus and priorities.
We also should not be tempted to introduce, or embrace, too many programmes which, in the end, we fail to fund from our own resources.
We, therefore, feel that the current process underway to review the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Programme should not be a mere academic exercise, but a reality check which should redirect us.
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, our continued over-reliance on the generosity and goodwill of our co-operating partners tends to compromise ownership and sustainability of our Sadc programmes.
How can we proudly claim Sadc to be our own organisation when close to 60 percent of our programmes are externally funded?
The review of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Programme, should, therefore, result in a Sadc, with fewer and focused programmes that are core to our vision of regional integration, which is aimed at strengthening our economies and the improvement of the lives of the people of our region.
Your Excellencies, our theme for this summit, “Sadc Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition” has, as Sadc, the potential to drive both our short-term and long-term objectives.
Our region has abundant resources, which resources, instead of being sold in raw form, at very low prices, must instead be exploited and beneficiated, in order to add value and cost to those products which we eventually export.
This process should assist us in our efforts to industrialise, and in turn, increase employment opportunities for our people.
Excellencies, distinguished guests, Sadc should also wean itself from exporting raw materials, but instead seek to create value chains that lead to the exportation of finished goods.
I am confident, that in our discussions, we will lay a foundation for the necessary strategies, as well as a plan of action on the beneficiation and value addition of our natural resources.
Our material resources are capable of playing a pivotal role in the development of all Sadc member-states.
Your Excellencies, The region seems to have slowed down on market integration, and instead our focus is now more on the ongoing consolidation of the Sadc Free Trade Area.
We, however, remain concerned about the persistently skewed trade imbalance among member-states, which further justifies the pursuance of robust industrialisation policies across the region, if we are to create jobs and curb labour migration.
We are, however, inspired by the continuing development of a Tripartite Free Trade Area, which operates within the framework of the Tripartite Trade Negotiating Forum, launched in Sandton, South Africa, in June 2011.
The prospect of an expanded market and the exploitation of our comparative advantage within the tripartite arrangement, can only stimulate intra-Africa trade and lend itself to a multiplier effect on our earnings.
The implementation of the Sadc Industrial Policy Framework that we adopted in Lilongwe, Malawi in August 2010 should enable us to have the goods to sell in the expanded market.
Dear colleagues, distinguished guests, having adopted a blueprint for infrastructure development in August 2012, in Maputo, Mozambique, our way forward is to target the development of high priority infrastructure projects.
We, at the same time, actively engage targeted investors and financiers with celebrated track records.
Emphasis should, therefore, be on co-operation in the implementation of cross-border infrastructure projects.
It is our view that the proposed Sadc Declaration on Infrastructure Development shall underpin our efforts in rolling out the Sadc Infrastructure Development Master Plan.
To this end, we need to take clear decisions relating to priorities of our projects, the marketing strategy to investors, and progressive financing modalities.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In relation to peace, security and democracy, our scorecard remains encouraging, as the Sadc region remains one of the most peaceful and stable on the continent, thanks to mechanisms that we have put in place in the context of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.
I wish to commend, in particular, the Organ Troika for working tirelessly and providing rapid response to emerging challenges on peace and security.
Our mediation process in Madagascar is a shining example of Sadc’s characteristic resilience and patience.
The long time we took to try and settle the situation in Madagascar shows how patient we are when it comes to the need for us to search for peace and security in our region.
There was a time people might have given up but no, we went on and on trying this and that solution, and finally we had reached the solution that produced elections.
Our patience has yielded results of what we see as Madagascar here today.
Sadc must beat its chest to say we have done it.
As incoming Chair I say well done.
Never, never, never must we give up hope when it comes to the search for peace in any part of our region.
Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate the people of South Africa and Malawi for the successful democratic elections they held earlier this year.
I am confident that the forthcoming elections in Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique shall, as they have always done, meet the standards as espoused in our Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
We supervise those polls, we the people of Sadc, the people of Africa.
And our true friends can supervise because what we want are genuine decisions, and not skewed decisions that will not honestly recognise the truth.
But there are others who think truth can be untruth for their own reasons, as we saw in Zimbabwe, and these are the people we don’t want.
Why do they come here if they are not objective?
We of Africa know what the truth is, but there are others who think they know, why do they come here if they are not objective?
Esteemed colleagues, I wish to note the statement that was made in solidarity with the Palestinian people at the recent meeting of Sadc’s Ministerial Committee of the Organ in Swakopmund, Namibia.
It will be remiss of me if I conclude my remarks without reference to the recent brutalities that have been meted out against the Palestinian people.
The Western world, which claims high moral ground on issues of human rights and the sanctity of life, have looked, with moral and academic indifference, while the Israeli army continues to butcher innocent women and children, all under the false guise of fighting terrorists.
We have seen attacks on hospitals and even UN units.
It has never happened elsewhere.
Is Israel that precious, so precious that it cannot be stopped?
The women lost their children; we saw them sighing and weeping.
Why was it thought their wombs would yield, give birth to future terrorist who would worry precious Israel? Or is it on the assumption that these children will be terrorists tomorrow, or that these women will give birth to future terrorists?
Well, well, well, peace for Europe and America is the same peace that we crave to establish in our own region; the same peace that the people of Palestine would want to see in Gaza.
We don’t advocate terrorism at all but the way to check it is not by killing innocent women and children in places that could be described as the home of terrorists.
Africa is abhorred.
This is the most brutal demonstration of man’s inhumanity to man, and it is criminal for the world to keep silent in the wake of such crimes against humanity.
Let me conclude by thanking Sadc for standing by Zimbabwe at a time when we faced serious challenges.
We thank Sadc for consistently calling for the removal of EU and Western illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe, illegal because they were not sanctioned by the UN whose effects are debilitating to our economy and to our people.
We don’t understand why they have ever been imposed.
To tell you the truth, we don’t. Neither does Sadc understand.
Without your support, we would not be standing on our feet today.
We will remain eternally grateful for that.
I say, once again, thank you Sadc.
We shall forever be grateful to Southern African countries for the sacrifices they made for Zimbabwe to be free.
Once upon a time this region was named after a man called Cecil Rhodes — Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia — and not only were we christened in that way but even a whole federation was erected to preserve the name of John Cecil Rhodes.
He was not alone in this; it was John Cecil Rhodes embodying British imperialism.
We were glad Africa joined us in fighting a fight that rid us of colonialism in Southern Africa, not to mention the rest of Africa.
We remain extremely grateful.
May this stand, borne in the reckonings and consciousness of our forefathers, continue.
Those who formed the Frontline States are gone except KK (Dr Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia). (Julius) Nyerere of Tanzania, (Samora) Machel of Mozambique, (Agostino) Neto of Angola, Seretse Khama of Botswana are (all) gone.
They are the ones who formed the Frontline States which formed Sadcc, with two “Cs”.
Sadcc was a co-ordinating body at that time, on the strength of whose reckonings a lot happened, political freedoms were achieved.
It must not be forgotten that it was because of the stand of those forefathers that the OAU decided the liberation of the whole of Africa would be done through a body called the Liberation Committee hosted by Tanzania.
All liberation movements were housed there, divided as they were.
We had our own, ZANU and Zapu; ANC and PAC in South Africa; Swapo and Swanu in Namibia.
The results were resounding: Africa became free.
We have not done much by way of paying tribute to our founding fathers.
Yes, something has been done for (Kwame) Nkrumah at the AU, and recently a hall was named after (Nelson) Mandela.
But we forget, perhaps as a new generation of leaders, that the greatest burden of freeing Africa was borne by one country — Tanzania. That one. Not that he was the greatest, but Mwalimu — no mention has been made, no symbol to remember his part.
We cannot be that ungrateful, no.
I would want to say, help us, help me, respect Mwalimu at the AU somehow.
Excellences, Distinguished Guests,
I want to wish the Summit successful and fruitful deliberations.
I am confident that, with our collective resolve to foster regional co-operation and integration, we shall succeed in our endeavour to transform Sadc into a better and desirable place for its people.
Long live Sadc. Long live our unity. Long live our solidarity.
I thank you.