Southern African leaders have committed to put industrialisation at the top of Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) regional integration agenda.
Regional leaders from SADC member states met in Zimbabwe recently, where they discussed the latest developments and challenges facing the region.
A Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration was ordered to develop a strategy and roadmap for industrialisation in the region.
The theme for the summit, ‘SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition’, was inspired by the need for the region to beneficiate more of its mineral resources, instead of exporting raw materials.
The summit also discussed the threat posed by the Ebola virus.
Member states were urged to continue putting in place measures to prevent its spread and to effectively contain it, in case of an outbreak in the SADC region.
The deadly disease has claimed more than 1 000 lives in West Africa since its outbreak, but there have been no confirmed cases in the southern Africa region.
SADC to support Lesotho
Regional leaders also pledged to continue supporting South Africa’s neighbouring country Lesotho, where there has been by political strife recently.
The summit encouraged the coalition government leaders to continue to provide leadership in its effort to find a lasting political solution to the current impasse.
President Jacob Zuma, who was elected to chair the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, will monitor the situation in his neighbouring country.
He is expected to carry through SADC’s appeal to all political leaders and the people in general to refrain from any action that may undermine peace and stability in the country.
On agriculture and food security, SADC leaders said they had noted increases in food production in the region during the 2013 - 2014 growing season.
“However, humanitarian assistance and malnutrition still remained a challenge. To this end, the summit endorsed a Regional Food and Nutrition Security Strategy for 2015 to 2025 to ensure improved food availability, accessibility and utilisation in a more sustainable manner,” read a summit declaration.
The summit also noted progress on the status of women’s representation in politics and decision-making, and urged member states to put in place effective legislation, policies and strategies to sustain the achievements recorded so far.
The summit also noted progress in the prevention and control of HIV and Aids, TB and malaria, all of which have shown a declining trend.
In his closing speech, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who will be chairperson of the regional body for the next year, said the decisions of the summit could only be meaningful to the region if they are implemented.
“We therefore need to improve our scorecard on that front. I have no doubt that together we will achieve.”
President Mugabe pledged to work to ensuring that beneficiation and value addition is enhanced in the region during his tenure as SADC chairperson.