His Excellency Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany visited the Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), on 21 November 2018, on the margins of his two-day State visit to the Republic of Botswana.
President Steinmeier was welcomed to the Secretariat by the Executive Secretary of SADC Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax who was accompanied by the SADC Secretariat Deputy Executive Secretary for Corporate Affairs, Ambassador Joseph Nourrice.
In welcoming the President to the SADC Secretariat, Dr Tax expressed gratitude to the President for sparing time in his busy schedule to visit the SADC Headquarters, and extended SADC's gratitude for the continued cooperation between SADC and the Federal Republic of Germany.
President Steinmeier among others, indicated his interest in understanding SADC’s progress on regional integration, and the political situation in the region, in particular, how Zimbabwe was doing, and asked SADC’s position on the situation in Zimbabwe.
In responsible SADC Executive Secretary highlighted that the region has made progress in the consolidation of SADC Free Trade Area, where the focus has been placed on SADC Industrialization, with a view to enhance capacity to produce competitively, and trade equitably.
Dr Tax, further indicated that, while SADC integration is premised on the conventional stages of integration, the region is cognizant of multiple membership challenges faced by some of its member states. To this effect, the Regional has taken a Developmental Approach by focusing on what is feasible, especially cross border programmes and across sectors; a tripartite arrangement with the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, (COMESA), which is based on three pillars, namely Market Integration (Tripartite Free Trade Area), Industrialization, and Infrastructure Development; and the implementation of certain elements of Common Market. On the political situation, Dr Tax explained that the region is peaceful and stable, and has several mechanisms in place for conflicts prevention, to provide for early warning, and address challenging situations.
On Zimbabwe, Dr Tax outlined that Zimbabwe is on the right path, as the country has developed a programme for economic-transformation, and SADC supports Zimbabwe, and calls for the urgent lifting of economic sanctions.
“As SADC we have been calling for the lifting of economic sanctions hence we appeal to you, your Excellency, to help us in this noble course, to engage with other partners to lift the sanctions on Zimbabwe”, Dr Tax said.
In his response to Dr. Tax’s question on his views about SADC, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has been a Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2009 and again from 2013 to 2017, said he has always appreciated SADC integration and cooperation, adding that regional integration was the only authentic way to deal with socio-economic issues in the 21st century.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was accompanied to the SADC Secretariat by a delegation of six officials who included, the Director-General, and the Deputy Head of Division in the Federal Presidential Office Dr. Thomas Bagger; and Mr. Alexander Skiba, respectively; and H.E. Mr. Ralf Breth, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Botswana, and SADC.
Recently, on 12th November 2018, the SADC Executive Secretary, and the German Ambassador to Botswana and SADC, signed an Agreement on Technical Cooperation on support programmes on Regional Economic Integration in the areas of Transboundary Water Management, Transboundary Natural Resource Management and Resilience to Climate Change, and Strengthening National-Regional Linkages.