Southern Africa has come a long way and the region should continue to uphold the ideals of the founding fathers for the benefit of future generations.
This was said by King Mswati III of Swaziland, the current chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), during his familiarisation tour of the Sadc Secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana.
This golden generation of selfless leaders includes the founding Presidents of Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana, respectively Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda and Seretse Khama, who sacrificed the economic freedom of their countries to ensure that the rest of the region achieved political independence.
They formed the core leadership of the Frontline States.
Nyerere had to bear the greatest burden of freeing Africa by hosting the Liberation Committee of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and accommodating liberation fighters in his country, providing them with logistics, training and diplomatic support.
The founding fathers of Sadc, namely leaders of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe met in Lusaka, Zambia on April 1, 1980 to establish the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (Sadcc) — precursor to Sadc — after a series of consultations by representatives of the Frontline States to forge closer alliance.
Since its establishment, Sadc has achieved a number of milestones aimed at advancing political and economic freedom.
Speaking during a tour of the Sadc Secretariat, King Mswati III said it is important for Sadc to uphold the aspirations of the founding fathers of the organisation who believed in a united region where all the citizens enjoy high living standards and peace.
King Mswati III’s father, King Sobhuza II, was a strong supporter of liberation, and quietly fought the apartheid system in his giant neighbour, South Africa, through allowing access and support for trained cadres of the African National Congress, passing from Mozambique to South Africa.
“Sadc as a regional body was established with a solid foundation because of the vision that our founding members had to liberate the peoples of the region and offer them sustainable peace, stability, prosperity and sustainable development,” King Mswati III said.
“In this regard, we cannot let down the founding fathers. We have a greater responsibility, more than ever, to ensure that the foundation pillars of this organisation are sustained and we are able to deliver beyond what was initially expected.”
King Mswati III said while significant progress has been made to consolidate the gains of independence, it was also critical for Sadc member states to continue to render full support to the Secretariat and ensure that the region remains a reference point for regional cooperation, integration and prosperity.
The Sadc Secretariat is the principal executive institution of Sadc, responsible for strategic planning, facilitation and coordination and management of all regional activities, programmes and projects.
The integration agenda of southern Africa, therefore, depends on the effectiveness of the Sadc Secretariat to coordinate and implement regional programmes aimed at promoting sustainable development.
“As leaders, we urge you (Sadc Secretariat) to continue with the selfless and hardworking spirit in executing the Sadc programmes and activities in unity so that all the dreams and goals of Sadc are realised,” King Mswati III said.
The Sadc Secretariat is headed by an Executive Secretary with two deputies — one for Regional Integration and another for Finance and Administration — and is made up of eight directorates and eight stand-alone units responsible for cross-cutting issues.
The Secretariat is currently undergoing reforms that involve the restructuring of its organisational set-up.
Sadc Executive Secretary, Dr. Lawrence Stergomena Tax said the Secretariat is committed to delivering and implementing regional programmes in its quest to deepen integration and development.
“I would like to assure, Your Majesty, that the management is committed to operationalise these reforms diligently and professionally in order to ensure that the transition does not have adverse effects on the delivery of the Secretariat and welfare of staff,” she said.
Dr Tax paid tribute to the leadership of King Mswati III, saying a lot of achievements have been made since he became Sadc chair at the 36th Sadc Summit held in Swaziland in August 2016.
These achievements include the approval of a Costed Action Plan for the Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063 during a Sadc Extra Ordinary Summit that took place in March, also in Swaziland.
The action plan seeks to establish a coherent and synergistic implementation scheme containing strategic options and general policies towards the progressive attainment of time-bound targets set out in the strategy and roadmap.
The plan will focus on the first 15 years of the strategy timeframe, and aims to create an enabling environment for sustaining industrial development as a driver of economic transformation; and establish an enduring alliance for industrialisation consisting of the public and private sectors as well as strategic partners.
The Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap was developed as an inclusive long-term plan for modernisation and economic transformation that should enable substantial and sustained economic development to raise living standards.
It is anchored on three interdependent strategic pillars: industrialisation, as a champion of economic transformation; enhanced competitiveness; and, deeper regional integration.
Strategic interventions for each of these pillars are proposed in the action plan.
Other major achievements include the convening of a ministerial retreat to review the pace and level of the implementation of the Sadc integration agenda and the creation of a “Sadc We Want” that ensures that the people of the region fully enjoy the benefits and opportunities of belonging to a shared community in southern Africa. sardc.net