By Lerato Ndlovu
Southern African Development Community (SADC) today celebrates 40 years of existence and 28 years since it transformed from Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC).
In a communique SADC Chairperson and Tanzania’s president, John Pombe Joseph Magufuli congratulated citizens of the community for the ruby jubilee.
In the commemoration he extended his condolences to Zimbabweans on the passing of former President Robert Mugabe one of the founders of the SADC community.
“I, therefore, would like, as Chair of SADC, to extend warm greetings and congratulations to all SADC citizens on this Special Day for our Community. In the same vein, I take the opportunity to pay a well-deserved tribute to our Founding Fathers, who took the historic stride to form this noble Organization in order to serve as the vanguard of our aspirations for freedom, unity and solidarity.
“Indeed, without their vision and solidarity this day would have not been possible. It is unfortunate that, today, not many of our Founding Fathers are still alive. In September last year, we lost one of our few remaining Founding Fathers of this Community, the Late Comrade Robert Mugabe, former President of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Once again, on behalf of the SADC, I extend my most sincere condolences to the Government and People of the Republic of Zimbabwe for this great loss.”
He went on to commend efforts by the founding fathers and hard work by successive generations of leadership in regards to the development of the community and stated that there is still need to fulfill the dreams and visions of the founders.
“Fellow SADC Citizens, SADC has come a long way since its inception in 1980, in this respect, it is heartening to note that, over the past four decades, our Organization has recorded some important milestones in different areas of cooperation: from peace and security, to infrastructure development, trade and industry, agriculture and food security, health, education, gender and youth empowerment. Indeed, our region is now, more than ever, enjoying unparalleled peace and security compared to any other regions on the continent; intra-regional trade is increasing, extreme poverty is declining, income is rising and the level of our international competitiveness has been enhanced.
“I, therefore, take the opportunity to commend the efforts by our Founding Fathers, as well as the hard work of successive generations of leadership of our Community for achieving these important milestones, that said, however, we should always guard against complacency since much still needs to be done in order to realise our Founding Fathers’ dream and vision.” he said
He applauded the community for taking measures to fight the Covid-19 global pandemic that has disrupted lives these past eight months since its outbreak in Wuhan, China.
“I assumed the Chairmanship of our Organization last year and it has been a very exciting year and yet a very difficult one, as you are all aware, over the past 8 months, the world has been facing an acute and unprecedented health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In this regard, I wish to take this opportunity to extend my deepest condolences to those who 3 have lost loved ones; and I wish a speedy recovery to those afflicted by the disease. Similarly, I would like to pay tribute to all SADC Member States for taking appropriate measures to fight this disease. Indeed, thanks to our combined efforts, we have been able not only to reduce the impact caused by this pandemic, but also to be able to continue implementing our regional programmes and projects, including our theme for the past one year, which was “A Conducive Environment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, increased intra-regional trade, and job creation.
“All Member States have continued to implement regional programmes and projects in line with the theme; and the results have been outstanding, additionally, we have continued to implement our Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), which ends this year; 2020; and also embarked on developing the new one for the next 30 years, which was anchored on “the SADC We Want”.
He called upon the member states to continue to work together not only in addressing the COVID 19 impacts but also in preparing for the post pandemic period.