President Hage Geingob has finally taken over the reigns of the SADC leadership as chairperson from South Africa’s Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa on the eve of the conclusion of the recently held 38th ordinary summit.
In his acceptance speech, Geingob said he had accepted this responsibility knowing well that the leaders of the SADC nations have bestowed full confidence in Namibia to steer the work of SADC this to greater heights.
Said the President, “On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Namibia, I am delighted to accept the Chairmanship of SADC at a time when a New Africa, The Africa We Want, is on the rise.”
“Africa is on the march, driven by unity of purpose, the pursuit of common objectives and an unwavering determination to bring about shared prosperity.”
He took time to commend the outgoing Chairperson of SADC Ramaphosa for what he called a “sterling leadership he has provided to our organisation since assuming the Chairmanship”.
In the same vein, the President paid homage to outgoing Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation, João Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola, whom he said has provided a steady leadership in the promotion of peace and security across the region.
The recently held summit was themed on “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development,” and the President said it attested to SADC’s commitment in taking the agenda of infrastructural development forward, and the need for the youth to be at the center of what we do.
“The theme guides us towards the attainment of the goals and aspirations of the Region, as espoused in the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020 and the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, 2015-2063.”
“Infrastructural development is a catalyst for youth empowerment and job creation. It is one of the avenues through which we can address the issue of youth unemployment in the region,” he said in his speech.
The President said during its Chairmanship, Namibia intends to accelerate progress in terms of the empowerment of women and will encourage the harmonisation of gender-responsive legislation, policies and programmes, and projects, as outlined in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
He also said the regional aspiration industrialization and subsequent sustainable development cannot be pursued without the existence of robust governance architectures within all respective member-countries and thus called for the adoption of a modern approach to governance, characterised by robust processes, systems and institutions and no longer centered on personalities.
“This approach is also part and parcel of the ‘The Africa We Want’, which is characterised by fair and transparent processes; systems and the ethos of institutions that are beyond reproach. Processes, systems, and institutions are indispensable in buttressing democracy and effective governance,” said Geingob.
He also promised to intensify discussions on the establishment of a SADC Parliament, which he said will not only help buttress the governance architecture of the region but will also be a key driver of integration and development efforts.
He reassured the summit that during his chairmanship, Namibia will ensure that SADC pulls together in the same direction, and works harder in order to succeed in its agenda of development, economic cooperation, and regional integration.
“We will continue to promote the SADC Agenda in order to realise sustainable development, poverty eradication, food security, peace, youth and gender empowerment. And additionally, a conducive environment for economic development, shared prosperity and enhancing the quality of life of the people of this region is a mandate we should fulfill,” said the President.
The President also urged member-states to make use of artificial intelligence and robotics as a means to catalyse the development agenda.
“I wish to underscore the importance of unity in our pursuit to enhance the living standards and wellbeing of our people.”
“When we move forward as a united force and as a coordinated team, we will overcome challenges and accomplish our goals of ensuring that the citizens of SADC, and of Africa in general, realize the benefits of socio-economic and political integration,” he added.
In light of intra-Africa trade, Geingob said it was “disheartening to learn that some citizens are encountering difficulties moving across borders within our region”.
“South Africans, who should benefit from the five flights a day that take place between Johannesburg and Windhoek, are hindered by the fact that they are required to apply for an entry Visa for every single visit.”
“This is a barrier to business and ultimately, our aspirations of integration. This is why we have taken a decision that Africans carrying diplomatic passports can come to Namibia without visa requirements. Eventually, we plan to do away with visa requirements for all passports. Only then, will we walk the talk,” he said.
The president vowed that during my tenure as chairperson, he will strive to ensure that SADC remains focused on the promotion of intra-Africa trade and plans to work closely with his peers to ensure that economic growth and industrialisation agendas are supported by infrastructure development.