Sadc needs to speak with one voice on resources 

Source: Sadc needs to speak with one voice on resources | The Sunday Mail

Sadc needs to speak with one voice on resources
President Mnangagwa (centre) and his Zambian counterpart President Hakainde Hichilema (right) admire an antelope artefact at the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) Summit in Livingstone, Zambia on Friday. – Picture: Presidential Photographer Joseph Nyadzayo

Kuda Bwititi in LIVINGSTONE, Zambia

THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) must not allow outsiders to dictate its conservation policies, but speak with one voice in defending how the region manages its natural resources, President Mnangagwa has said.

He said this at the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conversation Area (KAZA TFCA) Heads of State Summit that ended in Livingstone, Zambia, on Friday.

KAZA TFCA is the largest conservation area in the world and lies in the Kavango and Zambezi River basins, where five SADC nations — Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe — converge.

In his remarks at the summit, President Mnangagwa, who is the incoming SADC chairperson, said countries should enhance collaboration in defending regional interests.

“We should never allow those with dubious agendas to dictate the way we manage and utilise our own God-given resources, as well as the conservation models we deploy within our own jurisdictions. In this context, we need a common voice in defending our conservation policies, our people and our sovereignty,” he said.

Collaborative efforts such as the KAZA TFCA, he also said, will ensure a brighter future for people in the region.

“As a result, we can derive equitable socio-economic benefits through sustainable use and development of our natural and cultural heritage resources,” he added.

“The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, together with other transfrontier conservation collaborations in the SADC region, are an indication of our unity and regional integration efforts as Southern Africa.

“It is this spirit of unity which will facilitate continued beneficial cooperation and collaboration among our nations for the betterment of our people.”

According to President Mnangagwa, the KAZA TFCA Summit reinforced what the region’s founding leaders sought to achieve.

“The summit strengthens the legacy that was left behind by the founding fathers of this transfrontier conservation area, which is aimed at harmonising policies, strategies and practices for managing shared resources that straddle across international boundaries.”

The summit ran under the theme “Leveraging KAZA’s Natural Capital and Cultural Heritage Resources as Catalysts for Inclusive Socio-Economic Development of the Eco-Region”.

In his closing remarks at the summit, Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema called for “non-stop border posts” among SADC countries to boost trade and people-to-people relations in the region.

“We should talk about a non-stop border post. This is because it will enable us to cut the cost of crossing borders and remove opportunities for corruption,” he said.

“Technology allows us to have such a setup because, for example, we can use technology to track trucks. So, let’s not talk about one-border posts but non-stop border posts.”

President Hichilema said SADC countries should not compete against each other.

“As colleagues in the region, let’s not think of competition but complementarity . . .”

In a communique issued at the end of the summit, the five KAZA TFCA nations agreed to “better defend the socio-economic interests of the region” at international summits.

The countries will also consider trading their elephants with non-CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) members.

“Summit considered options available outside and within CITES, including diplomatic engagement, withdrawal, litigation, arbitration and trading with other non-CITES countries to benefit from wildlife products,” reads part of the communique.

Zimbabwe has a burgeoning elephant population, which is increasing the incidents of human-wildlife conflict.