Darlington Musarurwa Herald Correspondent
President Mnangagwa leaves for the Malawian capital, Lilongwe, today for the 41st Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government, which runs from tomorrow to Wednesday under the theme “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of Covid-19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation”.
The summit will “take stock of progress made in promoting and deepening regional integration”.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Frederick Shava is already in Malawi for preparatory meetings that precede the summit.
President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi will take over as chairperson of the bloc from Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, while a new Executive Secretary to head the SADC Secretariat in Botswana will be elected following the expiry of the tenure of incumbent Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax.
Dr Tax, the first woman to hold the post, has served the maximum of two four-year terms and under the term limits set by SADC, cannot be reappointed.
In a recent statement, SADC said there would be a limited number of delegates at the summit and the ministerial meeting held before the heads of State gather in order to observe Covid-19 protocols.
“The summit will take stock of progress made in promoting and deepening regional integration in line with SADC’s aspirations as espoused in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2020–2030 and Vision 2050, which envisage a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle-to high-income industrialised region where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic well-being, justice and freedom.”
A series of meetings leading up to the summit have already been held or are planned, with the SADC Organ Troika Summit expected today.
The Organ Troika, formally known as the Organ on Politics, Security and Defence Cooperation, is mandated to secure and guarantee peace in the region.
It will likely be seized by developments in the DRC, eSwatini, Lesotho and Mozambique.
Already regional countries have decided to intervene in Mozambique to deal with an insurgency in Cabo Delgado province that has so far killed 2 500 people and displaced more than 800 000.
On 23 June, the 16-member regional bloc, acting on recommendations from a technical team that had been deployed in Mozambique, agreed to deploy its Standby Force under the framework of SADC Mutual Defence. The technical team recommended sending 3000 troops with land, air and naval capabilities.
On August 9, the SADC Mission in Mozambique formally joined the campaign. The force includes troops from South Africa (1 495), Botswana (300), Lesotho (125) and Angola (20). Zimbabwe is contributing 304 specialist military instructors to boost the Mozambican military’s capacity.
Last week, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said Zimbabwe is waiting for instructions from the SADC Secretariat. “Zimbabwe has pledged to deploy a training contingent of 304 ZDF (Zimbabwe Defence Forces) members to that mission. However, we await deployment instructions from SADC Secretariat. Some countries have already deployed in that country and sooner than later, the insurgency will be contained.”
For the critical post of Executive Secretary member States will have to choose between two high-clibre candidates: DRC’s Professor Faustin Luanga Mukela, who is a senior official at the World Trade Organisation, and Mr Elias Magosi, the current head of the Botswana Public Service.
A special envoy from DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, Mr Didier Makanzu (DRC’s Regional Integration Minister), recently met President Mnangagwa at State House in Harare on July 21 to canvass for support.
“The tradition is that when both posts are vacant (the Executive Secretary and Deputy Executive Secretary posts) the deputy’s post automatically goes to the host country, which is Botswana, but Botswana also wants to have the top post, so the DRC came to seek Zimbabwe’s support because our country is the only one that can present a candidate for the top post,” he said after the meeting.
However, Zimbabwe indicated it would make a decision after consultations.
Whoever the leaders decide is the best person to fill the post will have the onerous task of spearheading the region’s industrialisation strategy, which is premised on industrialisation, competitiveness and regional integration.
Current data indicates that a lot needs to be done, as the share of the manufacturing sector to overall GDP in the region is still low, at around 12 percent.
SADC believes that in order to realise the targeted long-term development objectives, member states will have to address the slow progress in ratifying the Protocol on Industry, including delays in the operationalisation of the SADC Regional Development Fund in order to facilitate mobilisation of meaningful resources to support regional value chains, mineral beneficiation and other industrial projects in the region that require large-scale investments.
There is also a push to improve policy environment for industrial development and value addition to facilitate increased industrial investments at member state level.