19 August 2014
Southern African leaders put industrialisation at the top of the SADC’s agenda as their two-day summit in Zimbabwe ended on Monday, ordering a ministerial task team on regional economic integration to develop a roadmap for industrialisation in the region.
The leaders of the 15 Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries were meeting in Victoria Falls to discuss developments and challenges facing the region.
Regarding the latest of these – the threat posed by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. While there have been no cases of the virus in the southern Africa region, member states were urged to continue putting in place measures to prevent its spread and to effectively contain it in case of a local outbreak.
The leaders also pledged to continue supporting South Africa’s neighbouring country Lesotho, which has been besieged by political strife since last year. The summit encouraged Lesotho’s coalition government leaders to continue to provide leadership in its effort to find a lasting political solution to the impasse.
South African President Jacob Zuma, who was elected to chair the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, will have to keep close tabs on the situation as he carries through SADC’s appeal to all political leaders and the people in general to refrain from any action that would undermine peace and stability in Lesotho.
On agriculture and food security, SADC leaders said they had noted increases in food production in the region during the 2013-2014 growing season.
“However, humanitarian assistance and malnutrition still remained a challenge,” a summit declaration read. “To this end, the summit endorsed a Regional Food and Nutrition Security Strategy for 2015 to 2025 to ensure improved food availability, accessibility and utilisation in a more sustainable manner.”
The summit also noted progress in women’s representation in politics and decision making, and urged member states to put in place effective legislation, policies and strategies to sustain the achievements recorded so far.
The summit also noted progress in the prevention and control of HIV/Aids, TB and malaria, all of which have shown a declining trend in the region.
In his closing speech, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who will be chairperson of the regional body for the next year, said the decisions of the summit could only be meaningful to the region if they were implemented.
“We therefore need to improve our scorecard on that front. I have no doubt that together we will achieve.”