34th SADC Summit opens in Vic Falls
From Cecilia Banda in Victoria Fallls Town, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls, August 17, 2014, ZANIS — A lot of pomp and splendour is expected to characterized the official opening ceremony of the 34th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit, this morning.
This is because a lot of work had gone into the preparatory works and organization of the Summit which Zimbabwe is hosting for the first time in 25 years.
Zimbabwe today took over the Chairmanship of the 15 member regional grouping from Malawi which has been holding the mantle for the past one year initially under the leadership of former President Joyce Banda who became the First-ever First female President of the grouping since its formation before handing over to the current President Peter Mutharika who ascended to power in May this year.
This year’s Summit is also unique as two of its long-serving SADC Leaders, Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia bade farewell to the grouping today as both are serving their second and last political terms in office of their respective countries as per their national constitutions.
Both President Guebuza and Pohamba gave their farewell speeches to the Summit today after serving in their respective countries since 2005 following elections held in both nations in 2004.
President Pohamba and Guebuza have both had the opportunity to chair SADC in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
This was in recognition of their individual instrumental contribution in pushing the regional integration agenda forward.
The duo are firm believers in the notion that SADC member states have a lot to gain from working together.
The Namibian President is the current chair of the SADC Organ on Politics Defence, and Security Cooperation and is expected to brief his fellow Leaders on the general political and security situation in the region.
His brief also included a review of the situation in the eastern part of the DRC which slid into political turmoil in 2012 when anti-government rebels invaded and captured the city of Goma displacing millions of people and causing loss of life.
SADC is closely monitoring the situation in the eastern DRC and has deployed peace keeping forces alongside the United Nations while the tense political situation in Lesotho might also be included in President Pohamba’s brief as the coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabana is experiencing challenges.
Similarly, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza contribution to regional integration in the past 10 years that he has been Head of State will not go un noticed as he has been at the helm of overseeing the completion and launch of the SADC Regional Infrastructure Master Plan in 2012 which guides the development of key infrastructure projects in Southern Africa.
The theme for this year’s summit is: " SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition."