The Sadc Heads of State and Government Extraordinary Summit on industrialisation begins today, with some regional leaders having arrived in Harare yesterday, while more are expected early this morning.
Among those who arrived yesterday were presidents Edgar Lungu (Zambia), Hage Geingob (Namibia), Vice President Mohamed Gharib Bilal (Tanzania) and Prime Minister Pakalitha Bethue I Mosisili (Lesotho).
Those expected today are presidents Jacob Zuma (South Africa), Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique), Ian Khama Seretse Khama (Botswana), President Peter Mutharika (Malawi) and King Mswati (Swaziland).
Angola, Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius and the Democratic Republic of Congo are being represented at ministerial level.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the summit fulfils President Mugabe’s vision of seeing southern Africa empowered through beneficiation of its resources.
“Never before has any theme of the Sadc Summit outlived that individual summit,” he said. “But in this particular case, the roadmap and the strategy which has been prepared spans over a period of 48 years.
“Therefore, the outcome of this Extraordinary Summit will continue to be a point of reference for our region for the next half century and this is historic and the whole region is appreciative of the contribution that His Excellency the President (President Mugabe) has made on the development agenda of the entire region.
“As you know, the question of value-addition and beneficiation has been an issue which His Excellency the President has always been advocating over many years and now we see the fruition of his persistence and his commitment to this particular issue and the summit tomorrow will establish a legacy of His Excellency the President’s vision and leadership for the next half century.”
Minister Mumbengegwi said adequate preparations had been put in place for the summit which Zimbabwe expects to be a resounding success.
The Council of Ministers, Minister Mumbengegwi said, had adopted the draft industrialisation strategy which they would recommend to the Summit today.
The Extra-Ordinary Summit was called for by the Heads of State and Governments at their Ordinary Summit held in Victoria Falls last year to craft a strategy on industrialising the region through value addition and beneficiation of the abundant natural resources in Sadc.
If adopted, the draft industrialisation strategy will be implemented in phases from this year until 2063 and will run concurrently with the Africa Union’s Agenda 63 that is based on rekindling Pan-Africanism, a sense of unity, self-reliance, integration and solidarity.
The Extra-Ordinary is also expected to discuss the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan.
President Mugabe, who is the Sadc chair, is expected to officially open the Summit this morning.
Meanwhile, a handful of rowdy youths linked to the MDC-T yesterday attempted to disrupt the Summit by holding an unsanctioned demonstration at Meikles Hotel.
The placard wielding gang quickly dispersed the moment police moved in.
Some of the placards were denouncing Zanu-PF and President Mugabe, while heaping praises on MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
Sadc has always snubbed the MDC-T in its quest to have Zimbabwe on its agenda by falsely claiming that the country was on the verge of collapse.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said no arrests were made.
“They ran away the moment they saw the police,” she said.