KINSHASA, DRC – Southern African countries have all they need to turn things around for the better.
He said this was only possible if the countries worked together by sharing skills and expertise in line with the guiding principles and strategies of the organisation.
In his interventions for the 42nd SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government, the king noted how the theme for this year’s summit is one that resonated with all member states.
“As SADC member states, we have suffered greatly from the economic downturn occasioned upon us by events over the past few years. It is time that we actualize our words and visions and deliver on the statement that the theme speaks to,” he emphasised.
The king also shared how Eswatini’s Industrial Development Policy (2015-2022) is aligned with the SADC industrialization strategy and roadmap which seeks to promote and diversify the country’s industrial activities.
It also seeks to increase employment and utilization and beneficiation of local and regional raw materials in the production of goods for domestic and export markets, as well as to promote broad-based industrialization.
He appreciated the assistance Eswatini has received through the SADC Trade Related Facility (TRF) for the review of the industrial development policy and the development of a value chain strategy for Eswatini.
Through this assistance, the king said the country had outlined agro-processing, mining and mineral beneficiation and pharmaceuticals as priority sectors in our industrial development policy.
He further welcomed the delivery of the 2013-2018 Development Objective Grant Agreement which sought to support closer regional integration.
The Kingdom of Eswatini was one of the beneficiaries and has seen progress in targeted areas such as HIV and AIDS, food security, agriculture and trade, among others.
“We are also looking forward to the implementation of the SADC pooled procurement services. This will allow us to collectively source, and sell, our goods at preferential rates,” he said.
His Majesty stated that these services would also counter the impacts of the current challenges, including the disruption of global supply chains due to conflicts and other socio-economic problems.
“We are currently implementing the value chain strategy where horticulture, as well as meat and its products, were identified as sub-sectors with great potential. Therefore, we encourage member states to collaborate with us to deepen regional value chains,” he urged.
The king said the country was also implementing the SADC industrialization strategy and roadmap. From this, he shared, several pack houses across the country had been constructed to enhance cold chain management to improve the turnaround time for smallholder farmers and encourage them to venture into the business.
Outgoing Southern African Development Community (SADC) Chairman Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has urged the regional leaders and its people to defend what is theirs.
He said the region is rich in its natural and mineral resources that have the potential to finance the projects the continent needs.
He was speaking in his final address and opening remarks of the SADC 42nd Heads of State Summit held here on Wednesday morning.
“We must develop our pool of natural resources to deliver the kind of development we need. No economic bloc is endowed with these resources as SADC is.
“We must get our act together and work together to protect these resources and use them for the key they are to unlocking our region’s economic potential.
“If we do not do that, the forces we all know are in our region from the West and the East will surely succeed in their intentions to steal those resources from us. I know it is not politically correct to say that, but we should not pretend that these corporations are not run by governments that have a long history of stealing from us those resources,” he said to the applause of the leaders present.
He said if the world wants these resources they should buy them in fair trade so that the continent can use the proceeds to build new cities, new universities, new infrastructure, new industries and new programmes that would lift the region out of poverty and meet their needs.
“With the resources we have, we refuse to be anyone’s beggar. And with the unity we have, we must refuse anyone to steal from us or use us to steal from our people or each other. The plunder that we have allowed the West to conduct here in the DRC is a sin we must repent of, resolve and refuse to repeat anywhere else in our region. Let’s show the world with one voice that Africa is open for business but Africa is not for sale,” he said.
President Chakwera then thanked the SADC Secretariat for the support they gave him as chairman and was grateful for the opportunities it gave him personally.
He then proceeded to hand over the tools of the chairmanship to DRC President Felix Tshisekedi.
The establishment of the SADC University of Transformation (SUT) could soon be fast-tracked.
This is the brainchild of His Majesty the King.
The Council of SADC ministers attending the 42nd SADC Summit placed this matter on the agenda and recommended action for progress.
This is commended by the King in his interventions for the summit.
He was pleased that the ministers had approved the establishment of a technical working group, to fast-track the operationalisation of this institution which he said would add the required impetus in training the youth in the region.
The ministers, he said, further agreed that a detailed budget and implementation plan for the operationalisation of this university will be developed and progress presented in the next meeting in 2022.
Eswatini has extended appreciation to SADC for the establishment of the infrastructure fund to finance the implementation of regional projects.
His Majesty the King acknowledged member states, the secretariat, and the international cooperating partners including the African Development Bank (ADB) for committing themselves to finance these projects.
“They (projects) will help contribute to our respective countries and provide handsome dividends towards our national development plans. Eswatini will also take the opportunity to submit projects for consideration,” said His Majesty.
Eswatini has started the ratification process of the protocol on industry.
This is an important legal framework that will govern the attainment of industrial development in the region.
In interventions for the 42nd SADC Summit His Majesty the King said he was confident that the country would have outcomes that address the pertinent issues and take our region to greater heights. He called for tangible and action-orientated targets.
“We should prevail and come out victorious against all the adversities that are distracting us from focusing on our key regional development agenda that is inclusive, which also seeks to enhance and address the plethora of challenges faced by our people such as unemployment, particularly for our youth,” he said.
He further emphasized the need to work together in strongly condemning and discouraging those working against the aspirations and protocols of the SADC family.
He said the African Union was also concerned that our continent could lose all the economic gains which have been accrued over the years.