Thursday, February 19, 2009

SA to use SADC position to build regional integration

By Bathandwa Mbola - BuaNews - 06/02/2009

Cape Town - South Africa, during its tenure as Chairperson of the Southern Africa Develop Community (SADC) will strengthen the critical institution and cement regional cohesion.

At the same time South Africa hopes to improve SADC's interaction with the Common Market of East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC).

Addressing the National Assembly, during his State of the Nation Address, President Kgalema Motlanthe said: "These initiatives will be undertaken in order to extend rather than weaken the deep set of relations that we enjoy within the Southern African Customs Union (SACU)."

South Africa took over as Chairperson of the regional bloc in August 2008.

President Kgalema hopes to focus SADC's efforts on restructuring and replacing sectoral coordinating units with national committees to strengthen linkages between SADC and the countries of the region as well as between the SADC Secretariat and the political structures that guide it.

Highlighting some of the challenges and successes of the region, Mr Motlanthe said Democratic Republic of Congo was on a march to stability and prosperity. "That progress is inexorable".

"The partnership built in the recent period between the leadership of the DRC and Rwanda holds out a promise for advances in matters of security and in dealing with the humanitarian crisis; but, hopefully, also with regard to political dialogue."

In the same vein, South Africa will continue to work with other countries and the African Union to pursue these objectives in Burundi, Sudan, Western Sahara, C"te d'Ivoire, Somalia.

The crisis in Zimbabwe has dominated the agenda of SADC in recent months. President Motlanthe earlier this year convened a special summit in Pretoria to discuss the collapse of the agreement between rival political leaders to establish a government of national Unity.

However, leaders have now agreed to form a government of unity and the work of rebuilding the nation can now begin. South Africa has given its full support in this regard.