His Excellency, The Right Honourable Dr. Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland officially opened the SADC Council of Ministers in Lozitha, Swaziland on 26th August 2016. The Council of Ministers is convened to prepare for the SADC Summit scheduled to take place from 30th to 31st August 2016.
In his opening statement, the Prime Minister welcomed delegates to the meeting and to the Kingdom. He noted that over the 36 years of its existence, SADC has made tremendous progress in enhancing regional integration and cooperation. He cited regional infrastructure projects in water, transport and energy, the political stability and increased levels of socio-economic development as compelling justification for enhanced regional integration. He noted that while the region has developed a number of strategies including the RISDP and the Industrialization Strategy, and their costed Action Plans, resource mobilisation for accelerated industrialization, infrastructure development and agriculture development remains a challenge. He called upon the Secretariat to enhance the monitoring of regional initiatives to track progress made towards deeper regional integration.
Speaking during the opening session Opening Remarks, Her Excellency Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, the SADC Executive Secretary, highlighted the significant progress that the Region has made on regional integration programmes. Among others, she noted that the Region remained peaceful and stable as Member States continued to adhere to the principles of democracy, good governance and increased levels of socio-economic integration. Further, Dr. Tax highlighted progress on a number of regional initiatives in the just ended year including, energy development, finalization of the costing of the Regional Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2020, the launch of the Regional Humanitarian Appeal in response to the El Niño induced drought and the finalization of the costed Regional Agriculture Investment Plan for the Regional Agriculture Policy 2014. She further noted that implementation of the regional integration programmes require adequate resources and therefore commended the incoming chair of SADC for the theme of this year’s Summit: “Resource Mobilisation for Investment in Sustainable Energy Infrastructure for an Inclusive SADC Industrialisation and for the Prosperity of the Region”, which demonstrates the Region’s continued resolve to push forward its collective efforts to mobilise resources to drive the regional integration agenda for socio-economic transformation and development. She thanked the Goverment of Botswana for the support rendered to Secreatariat during their tenure as Chairperson of SADC and expressed her readiness to work with the incoming Chairperson, Swaziland.
In his handover remarks, the outgoing Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, Honourable Kenneth Matambo, Minister of Finance and Development Planning of the Republic of Botswana, highlighted a number of achievements made during Botswana’s tenure of office. These include, among others, the adoption of the Revised Regional Indicative Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020 and the Industrialisation Strategy and Road Map 2015-2060 whose implementation is critical for the regional integration agenda. He pointed out that this included the costing of these critical instruments which are expected to be tabled during this meeting.
Honourable Matambo also highlighted that considering the SADC Region’s high dependency on funding from ICPs, Botswana championed the development of the SADC Regional Resource Mobilisation Framework which is expected to be considered by the relevant Ministers on the margins of this Council. He further highlighted that notable progress had been made towards the development of the Regional Development Fund. With these remarks, Honourable Matambo handed over the SADC Chairpersonship to His Royal Highness Prince Hlangusemphi, Minister of Economic Planning and Development of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
In his acceptance speech, His Royal Highness Prince Hlangusemphi thanked the outgoing Chairperson, for the exemplary manner in which he steered the activities of SADC and also thanked the Republic of Botswana for keeping the thrust of the SADC agenda high, which enabled the Region to attain the unprecedented milestones reached during the year. He pledged the Government of Swaziland’s resolve to steer the region to greater prosperity and make SADC a better place for its citizens. He highlighted that as Chairperson of SADC, Swaziland will, among other things, focus on the SADC Industrialisation drive, the roll out of infrastructure, the promotion of agriculture underpinned by the Regional Agriculture Policy, the scale up of the mobilisation of resources and the operationalisation of the SADC Regional Development Fund.