President Rupiah Banda has been elected Deputy Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ of Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
President Banda, who was elected in his absentia, and his Mozambican counterpart, Armando Guebuza, who was also elected as the chairperson of the Organ, will run the affairs of the organ for the next one year.
This was announced last night in a communiqué during the closure of the 29th ordinary session of the SADC heads of state and government at the African Union (AU) village in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The summit also congratulated President Banda and his South African and Malawian counterparts, Jacob Zuma and Bingu wa Mutharika respectively for winning the elections in their respective countries.
In his speech during the official opening of the summit, on September 7, 2009 (Monday) Mr. Banda, said given the given the prevailing peace and political stability underpinned by good governance and the right economic policy environment, SADC could perform to its full potential.
Mr. Banda, who is also outgoing member of the SADC troika, noted that a lot had been achieved in the region since the body was established as the Southern African Coordinating Committee (SADCC) in the early 1980s.
The 29th ordinary SADC summit also renewed the appointment of Dr. Thomaz Salamao as Executive Secretary and Joao Chaholo as his Deputy for Regional integration.
Earlier during the opening session, Dr. Salamao reported that the region had been negatively affected by the global economic crisis and that the new SADC headquarters had been completed and secretariat staff had since moved to the new building in Botswana.
The summit also noted the speech by outgoing SADC chairperson, President Jacob Zuma, who highlighted several positive developments in the socioeconomic and political areas of the region during his country’s tenure of office.
In his report, Mr. Zuma pointed out the challenges facing the region, including the impact of the climate change, global financial and economic crisis, and urged member states to continue the joint efforts in addressing the issues.
On the political front, Mr. Zuma urged SADC member states to collectively tackle the challenges in Lesotho, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.
The summit also received a report from outgoing chairperson of the organ of Politics, Defence and Security, His Majesty King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
The report stated that the region was peaceful and stable.
However, King Mswati’s report observed that there were some security and political challenges in a few parts of the region, especially the Kingdom of Lesotho, Madagascar and Zimbabwe, which he said were being effectively addressed.
In the same vain, the summit noted the progress made in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement and called on the international community to remove all sanctions on Zimbabwe.
On Madagascar, the summit noted the progress made in an effort to restore constitutional order in that country, and commended former Mozambican President, Joachim Chissano, who is facilitating the reinstitution of democratic leadership in that country for the progress made so far.
The Heads of State and Government, also expressed concern at the attempts to undermine the agreements signed in Maputo by Malagasy political movements on August 9, 2009, and reiterated their decision on the suspension of Madagascar from SADC until the restoration of constitutional order in that country.
However, the summit also reiterated its support to the current political dialogue in Madagascar, and urged all political stakeholders in that country to fully implement the Maputo agreements.
The SADC ordinary summit also supported Malawi’s candidature to be the next African Union, AU, chairperson.
The SADC leaders also noted the report of former Botswana President, Sir Ketumire Masire, and commended him for his efforts in the post electoral political dialogue in Lesotho, and urged all the Basotho stakeholders to the dialogue to continue engaging in the process.
The summit noted the consolidation and political stability in the region, with particular emphasis on the free and fair manner in which the peoples of Angola, Malawi, Swaziland, South Africa and Zambia exercised their franchise during the elections last year and this year in the presidential, parliamentary, provincial and local government.
The summit also appreciated that Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia were now set to hold their elections during the last quarter of this year and wished them well during and after the polls.
The progress report made towards the achievement of the 50 per cent representation of women in political and decision making positions at all levels in line with the 2005 decision was also considered by SADC members who further urged those countries still to hold elections to ensure the gender parity goal, and congratulated Malawi for appointing a female vice president after elections in May this year.
The Heads of State and Government also noted progress made in the implementation of the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) and in the preparations for the negotiations of SADC Customs Union, and urged the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration to ensure that outstanding issues are effectively addressed.
The Task Force on Regional Economic Integration will meet in a Strategic Forum before the end of this year to further examine the regional economic integration agenda.
The prevailing food security situation in the region was also reviewed and it was reported that the SADC region estimated cereal surpluses in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa, although access to food and malnutrition at household level remains a challenge.
The summit approved and signed the Memorandum of Understanding on regional cooperation and integration among the COMESA, East African Community (EAU) and SADC.
The Agreement and amendment of the Treaty of the SADC Deputy Executive Secretaries was also approved and signed together with the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security, Cooperation and consequential amendments to the Treaty.
The declaration of Regional Cooperation in Competition and Consumer Laws and Policies, and the Amendment of the Protocol on Development of Tourism in the SADC region was also approved and signed.
President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo is the new chairperson for SADC and is deputized by his Namibian counterpart, Hifikepunye Pohamba.