GABORONE – Sadc chairperson Dr Hage Geingob, who is the president of Namibia, expressed his profound concern on Friday about the regional bloc’s chronic failure to turn its aspirations into actions.
Speaking during his visit to the Sadc Secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana, he said the pursuit of regional integration was the paramount objectives behind the establishment of Sadc.
But President Geingob stressed that failure to successfully implement the regional integration agenda was affecting economic growth in southern Africa.
In his address, the Sadc chairperson pointed to the failure to realise the aspirations of the Free Trade Area (FTA) that was first launched in 2008 with the aim of removing tariffs amongst member states and thereby supporting the growth of intra-Sadc trade.
The objectives of the tripartite agreement – the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, East African Community-Southern African Development Community Free Trade Area – are yet to be attained, Geingob lamented.
Last year, Sadc countries also signed the African Continental Free Trade Area, a flagship project of Agenda 2063, whereby goods and services will move freely among member states of the African Union with the objective of boosting intra-African trade.
“No one can question the fact that all of these trade agreements were signed in good faith and with the best of intentions. However, the question we need to ask ourselves is whether we have done or are doing enough in terms of implementation.
“Case in point is the Sadc Free Trade Area, which was envisioned as a tool to augment the private sector in the region by increasing domestic production and business opportunities, as well as supporting higher regional imports and exports.
“Have we achieved this? Alas, sometimes we take decisions and after failing to implement them, we simply move on to another decision. It is imperative that as Africans we should manage our RECs (regional economic communities) as corporations.
“Therefore, the core principles of corporate governance should be inculcated at all levels within the SADC Secretariat.
“Fairness, accountability, responsibility and transparency should constitute the DNA of our organization. This is the only guarantor of future growth and the successful implementation of our developmental aspirations,” Geingob said while addressing the Sadc Secretariat staff.
Geingob reminded his audience that the establishment of Sadc, “a brainchild of our visionary founding fathers, marked a turning point for our region, a point where the pursuit of regional integration was warranted”.
“Through Sadc, our countries began working in earnest, to harmonize practices in order to facilitate the process of regional integration which is a key for achieving our national developmental objectives, as well as remaining competitive in a constantly changing and increasingly complex global economic environment. Trade was identified as the prime catalyst for accelerating our regional integration agenda.”
President Geingob took over the rotational regional chair during the 38th Sadc Summit in Windhoek last year. His tenure runs under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”.
It is a standard practice for the regional chairperson during his tenure to visit the iconic Sadc headquarters in the central business district of Gaborone. Therefore, Geingob’s visit enabled him to appreciate the work done by the secretariat in facilitating the Sadc regional agenda and to provide guidance regarding the implementation of programmes.
On her part, the SADC executive secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, echoed the chairperson’s call for the implementation of the regional agenda. “For industrialisation to bring out the intended results, which is the improved well-being and prosperity of the Sadc citizens, concrete projects have to be implemented, accompanied with the needed investments,” she said.
• Andreas Thomas is the News Editor of The Southern Times
New Era Reporter
2019-02-04 09:49:25 13 days ago