The SADC Ministerial Retreat began in Ezulwini, Swaziland on 12th March 2017 under the theme “The SADC We Want”. The Retreat was officially opened by H.E. Paul S. Dlamini, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
During his opening remarks Official opening remarks, His Excellency, Senator Paul Dlamini, noted that the Retreat will take participants through the memory lane to understanding the vision of the Founding Fathers about the regional organisation they created in April 1980 in Lusaka. Senator Dlamini noted that even though the region has recorded progress in areas of peace and security, trade and infrastructure development, poverty levels remain high, and Human Development Indices are not encouraging. “Therefore SADC needs to align with the regional development aspirations as articulated in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP)”, he said.
In her remarks Remarks, Her Excellency, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax Retreat is exciting but, at the same time, challenging as the reflection is taking place almost 15 years after the review of the SADC institutions. She expressed optimism that from Ezulwini, the road towards better service delivery, and deeper regional integration, and in doing so, creating the “SADC WE WANT” will be clearly defined with appropriate follow-up actions. “This must address the identified challenges, and put in place the required institutional arrangements to drive regional integration agenda at both regional and national levels, and identify alternative sustainable sources of funding for SADC integration and development, and thus accelerate regional integration for the benefit of SADC citizens’’ She said.
The Retreat is expected to review the status of implementation of the SADC integration agenda, and reflect on whether SADC is realizing its objectives. The retreat is also expected to determine what needs to be done to create “THE SADC WE WANT “, assess progress made towards attaining the vision of SADC since the regional organisation was established, the challenges encountered, and examine the prospects for the future. The Retreat will further interrogate the adequacy of the existing institutional arrangements to drive regional integration at both regional and national levels. Further, the retreat will provide an opportunity to discuss alternative options for financing SADC integration sustainably.