DAR ES SALAAM – New Sadc chairperson, President John Magufuli of Tanzania, used his acceptance speech on Saturday to let off some steam regarding the regional bloc’s challenges over the years.
Magufuli implied that part of the region’s apparent struggles, especially on the economic and trade fronts, were a result of there not being adequate unity among member states.
This does not mirror the unity that glued Southern African revolutionaries of yesteryear together to lay the foundation on which the region currently stably rests its laurels.
“And this is what the founding fathers of this organisation (Sadc) and our respective countries, including the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Mzee Kenneth Kaunda, the late Samora Machel, the late Augustinho Neto, the late Seretse Khama, the late Nelson Mandela, Mzee Robert Mugabe and Mzee Sam Nujoma, to mention but a few, have taught us, that the power of unity, when it is channeled with purpose to achieve an objective, can provide remarkable results,” said the incoming Sadc chief.
In 2018, Sadc set a target GDP growth of 7.0 percent, but it only grew by 3.1 percent.
This, according to Magufuli, was below the continent’s average growth of 3.5 percent, the Eastern African region growth of 5.7 percent, the Northern African region growth of 4.9 percent and the 3.3 percent growth in West Africa.
“In addition, our intra-regional and extra-regional trade performance is also not so good. In 2017, the Sadc region, with 16 member states, a population of 327 million people, a total area of 9,882,959 square kilometres, and which is blessed with abundant and diverse natural resources, only exported goods worth US$143 billion.”
“On the other hand, Mexico and Vietnam, countries with areas of 1,943,955 square kilometres and 331,210 square kilometres and a population of 132.5 million people and 97.5 million people, each exported goods worth US$403 billion and US$214 billion, respectively.”
“This clearly shows that our economies are not performing well and we are still very far from achieving our economic objectives. I am saying this openly because there is no need to hide it. That is the truth,” said Magufuli, the no-nonsense fifth president of Tanzania.
“Of course, there are many reasons why our economies are not performing as expected – one of them being lack of information on the opportunities available in our respective countries. In May this year, for instance, I had the opportunity to visit four Sadc countries. Three of them, due to drought and other natural disasters, were experiencing shortage of food,” he said of the rare visit abroad, which included a stopover in Windhoek.
“In this respect, it surprised me to hear that those countries were planning to import foodstuff from outside Africa, while we in Tanzania were struggling to find markets for 2.5 million tons of our food surplus.”
“Due to lack of information, our countries are also importing cars, sugar, and fuel very far away from our region, while some Sadc member states South Africa, Mauritius and Angola – for instance – are producing the same, respectively.”
2019-08-19 07:15:36 | 6 months ago