Robert Mugabe (R). Photo: mg.co.za
by Dayo Laniyan
South African Heads of State have returned fresh from the US-Africa Summit in Washington last week are now currently meeting in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe for the 34th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit which just begun yesterday.
The theme for the summit has been “SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition. Southern Africa contains a variety of natural resources, including minerals such as diamonds, gold and platinum, with South Africa declaring itself as its top producer. According to reports, approximately half of the world’s vanadium, platinum and diamonds come from the region, with 36% of gold and 20% of cobalt.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who will be chair of the regional body for next year, said that the beneficiation of these minerals could stimulate long term economic growth for the region.
In particular he spoke against the 15-member states exporting raw materials to other continents such as Europe, Asia and America.
“Our region has abundant resources, which instead of being sold in raw form, at very low prices, must instead be exploited and beneficiated in order to add value and cost to those products which we eventually export.”
“This process should assist us in our efforts to industrialise and in turn, increase employment opportunities for our people.”
Nkosazaza Dlamini Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission also spoke at the summit, saying that Africa was the next growth path, and a continent of endless potential.
“Indeed we are able to navigate our social and economic challenges. We are defining our own agenda and Africa will be seen as the place to invest and do business,” she said.
“For Africa to achieve its potential, it needs to transform its economy and the way the continent does things.”
Other agendas of the summit include discussions on a report on the Review of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), a 15-year strategic plan that was approved by SADC leaders in 2003 as a blueprint for regional integration and development. There is also the implementation of Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), encouraged by the leaders of state.
For Presidents Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, this will be the last summit they will attend as representatives as both leaders are currently serving their second and last terms in office, anticipating the general elections coming up later this year. Elections in Mozambique are set for 15th October, while Namibia will go to polls in November.
The summit lasts for two days and will end on Monday.
The current members of the SADC are: Angola; Botswana; the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); Lesotho; Madagascar; Malawi; Mauritius; Mozambique; Namibia; Seychelles; South Africa; Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.