Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aziz Pahad concludes SADC Council of Ministers Meeting, Grand Baie, Mauritius, Thursday, 24 - Friday, 25 February 2005

Grand Baie - South African Deputy Foreign Minister, Aziz Pahad today, Saturday - 26 February 2005 - concluded a SADC Council of Ministers meeting scheduled for 24-25 February 2005 in Mauritius.

The South African delegation was led by Minister of Trade and Industry, Mandisi Mpahlwa.

With a growing emphasis on the consolidation of regional economic diplomacy, in the interests of creating the conditions for the region to alleviate poverty and underdevelopment, the Council of Ministers meeting endorsed SADC's candidate for the President of the African Development Bank, former Zimbabwean Finance Minister, Simba Makoni and the SADC candidate for the Director General of the World Trade Organisaton, Foreign Minister Jaya Krishna Cuttaree of Mauritius.

The Council of Ministers also received a report from the NEPAD Secretariat with regard to the consolidation of regional NEPAD programmes and the implementation of NEPAD projects.

In view of the close linkages between the implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), and NEPAD the report also included progress on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that will be reviewed during a special Summit of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2005 in New York.

Council also noted discussions of the SADC - EPA Member States (Economic Partnership Agreements) that will attempt to build synergies between parallel trade arrangements in SADC involving SACU, EAC, and the South Africa - European Union Trade and Development Co-operation Agreement (TDCA). These arrangements must be synergized so that economic discussions in the region can proceed as a unified block.

Other regional co-operation initiatives with development partners - the European Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, China and India - were discussed in the interests of further consolidating inter-regional economic diplomacy.

Council was briefed on the outcomes of the SADC-EU Ministerial Double Troika Meeting held in The Hague, the Netherlands on 20 October 2004. Issues on the agenda of the meeting included the enlargement of the EU, the SADC Guidelines and Principles Governing Democratic Elections, regional conflicts in Africa and NEPAD.

Council was advised that the number of SADC countries who have ratified the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) has risen to eleven with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Lesotho indicating their decision to join the APRM. In addition, member states expressed their concern at the length of time presently taken to be admitted to the Review and suggested that this be shortened to twelve months.

Council also received a report of the SADC Troika (Tanzania, Mauritius and Botswana) which included a briefing of the Troika's visit to Madagascar to assess its readiness to join SADC. Following this visit, it was agreed that Madagascar would submit a time frame and plan of action to the SADC Secretariat by 15 June 2005 indicating how it will meet its obligations, including the implementation of various SADC legal instruments. Heads of State and Government will decide in August 2005 whether to grant Madagascar full member of SADC.

Council was also briefed by the SADC Secretariat that in view of meetings of the SADC Standby Force (2-4 March) and the Ministerial Meeting of SADC Ministers of Defence (8-9 March) and preparations for the deployment of a SADC observer mission to the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe, the SADC Workshop on Election Guidelines to be hosted by Lesotho in Maseru from 28 February - 1 March 2005 would be postponed. In this regard, invitations from Zimbabwe have been issued to all invited observers and teams are being prepared for soonest deployment to Zimbabwe.

Council also discussed thoroughly a report of the Finance Committee which included a review of member states contributions. This item included an increase in the 2005-2006 budget of SADC in order to role out the RISDP of the organization and to support the challenges presented to the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as the building blocks of the African Union. It has been proposed that all contributions of member states be increased in order to create the financial resources for SADC to respond to its current and future challenges.

Finally, Council discussed arrangements to celebrate the 25th anniversary of SADC and the building of the new SADC Headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853.

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

26 February 2005


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