The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), His Excellency Dr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, paid a courtesy call on the Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), H.E. Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, at the SADC Secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana, on 22nd November 2019.
The AUC Chairperson, who was on an official visit to the Republic of Botswana, thanked the SADC Executive Secretary for receiving him. “It is my first time here, and I want to commend you for the constructive and positive milestones that SADC continues to make towards the regional and continental integration agenda”, H.E. Mahamat said.
The two parties discussed several issues, including those related to peace and security on the continent; economic integration; and how to strengthen coordination between AUC and Regional Economic Communities (RECs); as well as support to the SADC Standby Force Regional Logistics Depot (RLD). H.E. Mahamat applauded the SADC Region for its commitment to the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), and the role that the region was playing towards the implementation of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which is critical in making the AfCFTA a reality. The AfCFTA was signed in March 2018, and entered into force on 30th May 2019, and had its operational phase launched in July 2019.
The AUC Chairperson briefed H.E Dr. Tax on the status of operationalization of the AU Peace Fund which is intended to be the principal financing instrument for peace and security activities on the continent, which is expected to be fully operational in 2020. Once fully operational, the Peace Fund will finance activities in three thematic areas of Mediation and Preventive Diplomacy; Institutional Capacity; and Peace Support Operations. Furthermore, the Peace Fund will facilitate actions to implement the AU theme of the year 2020 which is, ‘Silencing the guns: creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development’.
H.E. Mahamat reiterated the AU’s concerns that the persistence of economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe continued to have negative impacts on the economy and the people of Zimbabwe, hence, the AU will continue to advocate for their removal.
While appreciating the support of the AU, and the need to continue calling for the removal of sanctions, H.E. Dr. Tax also called for a holistic approach that will also engage various partners to support Zimbabwe in the implementation of socio-economic reforms.
H.E. Dr. Tax also shared progress on the construction of the SADC Standby Force Regional Logistics Depot (RLD) which, once completed, will provide for storage, inspection and maintenance of equipment and materials for all components of the SADC Standby Force. The RLD will also help the SADC region to respond swiftly to disasters and emergencies, and disasters. She also emphasized the need to strengthen coordination between RECs and the AUC to avoid overlapping mandates, and duplication of efforts, and the need for a coordinated approach towards Africa’s engagement with International Partners.
The SADC Executive Secretary thanked H.E. Mahamat for being the first AUC Chairperson to visit the Secretariat. H.E. Dr. Tax reaffirmed SADC’s continued commitment to the AU and to support the AUC in accelerating continental integration. “As SADC, we remain committed to the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063, and we will continue to render our support to the operationalization of the AU 2020 theme of ‘Silencing the guns: creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development’, H.E. Dr. Tax said.
On the ongoing negotiations for ACP-EU Post-Cotonou Agreement, both parties committed to continue providing technical support to Member States as and when required, while being cognizant that the process is Member States-driven.
The AUC Chairperson was accompanied by the Chief of Staff, Amb. Abdoulaye Diop; Principal Strategic Advisor, Prof. Mohammed EI Hacen Lebatt; and other senior officials; while the SADC Executive Secretary was accompanied by Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo; Deputy Executive Secretary for Corporate Affairs, Amb. Joseph André Nourrice; Director of Finance, Investment and Customs, Mr. Sadwick Mtonakutha; and senior officers.