Statement by the Honourable Kgalema Motlanthe, President of South Africa and Chairperson of The Southern African Development Community (SADC) At the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit, Kampala, Uganda, 22 October 2008.
Your Excellency Yoweri Museveni, President of The Republic of Uganda and our Gracious Host;
Your Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Chairperson of the African Union;
Your Excellency Mwaki Kibaki, President of the Republic of Kenya and Chairperson of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa – COMESA;
Your Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and Chairperson of the Eastern African Community – EAC;
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and/or Government of The EAC, COMESA and SADC or Their Representatives;
Your Excellency Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of The African Union Commission;
Secretary General of COMESA;
Secretary General of EAC;
Executive Secretary of SADC;
Distinguished Members of The Diplomatic Corps;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I wish to express my gratitude to the Government and the People of the Republic of Uganda for the warm hospitality extended to me and the delegations of the Southern African Development Community since our arrival in this vibrant city of Kampala.
I wish to congratulate the Republic of Uganda on assuming a seat in the United Nations Security Council under the leadership of His Excellency, President Yoweri Museveni.
I am confident that Uganda will ably articulate the African Agenda in that august body, in a manner that will ultimately advance Africa’s collective cause.
Allow me to extend my congratulations to our brother, Festus Mogae, the former President of the Republic of Botswana, on being awarded the prestigious Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
On this occasion, I pay tribute to the sterling work of my predecessor, President Thabo Mbeki, for his contribution to advancing development across SADC and on the African continent.
Chairperson, Excellencies,Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a distinct privilege to address you on behalf of SADC on this historic occasion: the first meeting of the Tripartite Summit of COMESA, E.A.C. and SADC.
We are indeed honoured to be part of this Summit given its visionary aim of integrating the separate programmes of the three Regional Economic Communities into a coherent overall programme, that meaningfully advances the African Union’s objective of continental integration.
This year SADC celebrates its 28th anniversary.
At the time of its formation, SADC comprised five Members known as the Frontline States.
Braving the belligerence and destabilisation policies of the Apartheid regime, these States forged a heroic and moral struggle to end colonialism and apartheid.
The political dividends of this far-sighted vision can be observed today in the form of broader political stability and the progressive entrenchment of democratic practices.
It also laid the basis for reclaiming control over our social and economic destinies, rooted in a development-oriented regional integration agenda.
We see regional integration as a central component for our development in an increasingly globalised world economy.
Since its establishment, SADC has made tremendous strides in regional cooperation and integration.
Today, SADC comprises fifteen member states, a population of 248 million and, a combined GDP of over 375 billion US dollars.
SADC pursues developmental integration that combines market integration with measures to build the production capacity in our economies underpinned by regional infrastructure development including cross-border spatial development initiatives.
With respect to market integration, in August this year, SADC reached an important milestone by achieving a Free Trade Area.
In the area of infrastructure, SADC has developed and implemented numerous projects covering such areas as transport, communications technology, energy and tourism.
All this is aimed at accelerating efforts to achieve sustainable development, reduce poverty, create employment and improve the quality of life of all our people.
The process we embark upon today marks a historic step towards fulfilling our obligations under the African Union and the Abuja Treaty framework of Continental integration, which recognises that Regional Economic Communities are the building-blocs for the African Economic Community.
SADC believes the time has come for COMESA, EAC and SADC to bring together our respective regional integration programmes in order further to enlarge our markets, unlock our productive potential, increase the levels of intra-Africa trade, and enhance our developmental prospects.
As a next step in expanding regional markets in Africa, the process we launch today will place us in a stronger position to respond effectively to intensifying global economic competition and will begin to overcome the challenges posed by multiple memberships of regional organisations.
Our convening here today reflects a profound recognition that sustainable integration into the global economy requires a commitment to an irreversible process of building economic, political and social unity.
We are meeting at a time when there is great uncertainty in the global economy following the food and energy price crises and, more recently, upheavals in the financial markets.
While African and other developing countries had marginal influence over the decisions that have brought the international financial system to the brink of collapse, unjustifiably, the poor and vulnerable of these countries will bear the brunt of the economic downturn.
Chairperson, Your Excellencies,
It is imperative that effective remedial measures are developed to mitigate the negative impact of the crises, and developing countries must now be included in the governance of international financial institutions.
At the same time, we need to work towards a more equitable global trade regime that puts the concerns of developing countries at its centre.
Our strength lies in our unity and constitutes a formidable force for the achievement of our collective objectives.
Let us therefore take the necessary decisions to work systematically and with determination to establish a single free trade area that will weld together our three regions into one.
Let me conclude by recalling the words of President Mandela at the closing ceremony of the SADC Summit held in Blantyre, Malawi on 8th September 1997:
I have great faith in the ingenuity, resourcefulness, and commitment of the people of this region, to its development through our chosen path of regional cooperation and economic integration. The test of our success will ultimately be how much we provide for the basic human needs of our people through the creation of more jobs, social security, housing, and access to adequate medical care, eradication of illiteracy, water provision and a safe and sustainable environment.
Mr. Chairperson, Excellencies
In closing, we must direct the Secretaries of the REC’s to develop a road map to achieve our goal of integration bearing in mind the wise words of President Mandela.
I thank you