President Robert Mugabe says the decision made by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government at the just-ended 34th Summit will only be meaningful to the people if they are implemented.
President Mugabe took-over the chairmanship of the 15 member regional grouping yesterday from Malawi President Peter Mutharika during the official opening ceremony of the annual meeting held at the Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls town, Zimbabwe.
The Zambian government was represented at the Summit by Republican Vice President Guy Scott who was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba, his Commerce counterpart Bob Sichinga and Senior Private Secretary Robert Kamalata.
In his closing remarks marking the end of the two-day summit this afternoon, President Mugabe pledged to steer the SADC agenda during his one-year tenure to a higher level so that the regional grouping can effectively achieve the desired implementation plan of its programmes.
The SADC Heads of State and government have had meanwhile reviewed the regional blue-print for economic development, the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) formulated in Maputo-Mozambique in 2012 with a view to prioritizing projects for easy implementation and financing by the member states.
And President Mugabe pledged to take advantage of his chairmanship to represent the interests of the region at various for a so that SADC voice, programmes and projects are ever present.
” This is a task that cannot be accomplished by the Chair alone. I, therefore, will count on your individual and collective support to steer the agenda of SADC in order to achieve effective implementation of our programmes and I have no doubt that together we will succeed”, said President Mugabe.
He said the Heads of State and Government examined in detail during the two-day meeting how the regional could make beneficiation and value addition an integral part of the overall SADC agenda adding that the Leaders also had fruitful discussions on the progress made so far to create a regional development fund to finance SADC programmes .
The Zimbabwean President stressed that an SADC development fund was a necessary mechanism that would enable the grouping to fund and own its programmes in order to reduce what he emphasized was a preponderous dependency on international cooperating partners.
Meanwhile, the SADC Heads of State and Government have signed four legal instruments aimed at further enhancing regional political and economic integration and cooperation among the member states.
The legal instruments during the closing ceremony include the SADC Protocol on the Tribunal, the Protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development, the Protocol on Labour and the Declaration on Regional Infrastructure Development.
South Africa and Namibia have also signed the SADC Protocol on Trade and Services which the other 13 member states had already signed at previous Summits.
The next SADC Heads of State and Government Summit will be held in Bostwana.
Meanwhile, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Armando Guebuza of Mozambique have bade farewell to the SADC Heads of State and Government as they have both served two five-year terms of office in their respective countries which go for presidential elections later this year.
Ten (10) SADC Heads of State , three Prime Ministers and two Vice Presidents attended this year’s Summit.
And in a communique read at the end of the summit by SADC Executive secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the Summit encouraged the Coalition government in Lesotho to continue providing leadership in its efforts to find a lasting political solution to the current impasse.
And Vice President Guy Scott has since left for Lusaka after attending the two-day SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in Victoria Falls town, Zimbabwe.