Southern Times, Namibia
Summit ends on a high...Leaders commit to deepening economic integration
By Felix Njini
20 August 2010
WINDHOEK - The two-day SADC Summit ended in Windhoek on Tuesday with regional leaders reaffirming their commitment to deepening economic integration and speedy implementation of the bloc’s programmes.
A communiqué issued at the end of the Summit attended by heads of state and government from 14 member countries renewed SADC leaders’ calls for integration placing emphasis on the urgency of implementing agreed programmes.
The leaders said a ministerial task force on regional economic integration had come up with concrete actions and timelines aimed at consolidating the Free Trade Area (FTA).
The regional bloc said it would forge ahead with the establishment of a regional Customs Union and has set up a high level expert group which is expected to come up with a new framework for setting up the union.
’The main mandate of this group will be to consolidate and refine technical work so far done in order to reach agreement and common understanding on the parameters, benchmarks, timelines, a model customs union and its implementation modalities.
A report will be submitted to the task force before December 2011,’ read the communiqué. SADC had initially set 2010 as the timeline for establishing a Customs Union. The regional bloc said t it would continue with preparations for establishing the envisaged grand FTA which ropes in COMESA and EAC.
In a bid to tackle social and economic challenges facing most member states in the region, regional leaders said they have tasked the Secretariat to convene an Extra-Ordinary summit on economic development as leaders ponder ways to fight poverty and how to grow the region’s economies.
’Summit noted the adverse socio-economic effects of the global economic crisis on the region and underscored the need to take into account various factors and players such as the emerging economies and business communities in coming up with remedial measures,’ the communiqué read.
The leaders urged Lesotho to work towards finalising a Bill amending the country’s electoral laws as a matter of urgency.
They also said they would maintain sanctions against Madagascar, adding that a SADC liaison office would be set up in Madagascar to help facilitate ongoing dialogue.
’We will continue with the sanctions on Madagascar until the country returns to constitutional normalcy,’ the leaders said.
Whilst commending progress which has been made in implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in Zimbabwe, the regional bloc said Zimbabwe’s three principals should remain committed to the implementation of the GPA.
The SADC chairperson, Namibia, and Zambia, which took over the Chair of the Organ on Politics and the facilitator of the Zimbabwe’s political dialogue South Africa should take up the issue of Zimbabwe’s sanctions with the international community.
’Summit reiterated its call on the international community to lift all forms of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in view of the negative effects they have on Zimbabwe and the SADC region in general and mandated the chairperson of the SADC assisted by the chairperson of the Organ and the facilitator of the Zimbabwe political dialogue to engage the international community on the issue of sanctions on Zimbabwe.’