Speaking Notes for Post Council Media Briefing by Hon. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa and Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, Cape Town International Convention Centre, 27 February 2009
The SADC Council of Ministers has two regular scheduled meetings every year, in February to take stock of the performance of SADC Institutions and to approve its work programme and budget for the next fiscal year and in August to review the overall implementation of the SADC socioeconomic programmes in preparation for the annual ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government. The council of Ministers met on February 26 and 27, 2009 at the Cape Town International convention Centre in South Africa. During this sitting, Council took stock of the performance of the Secretariat during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009 and approved the budget for the fiscal year starting April 01, 2009.
Before I delve into the outcome of our meeting however, let me briefly appraise you on the socioeconomic, political and security situation prevailing in the SADC region.
2. SOCIOECONOMIC, POLITICAL & SECURITY SITUATION IN THE SADC REGION
2.1 Socioeconomic situation in the Region
The prospects for economic growth and development in the SADC region are likely to be negatively affected by the global economic crisis. Most, if not all SADC member States are highly depended on primary commodities such as minerals, oil, and agriculture. The contraction resulting from the global economic crisis will certainly affect the prices of the primary commodities as demand for these commodities from developed countries is decreasing.
Prior to the crisis, the region was experiencing positive economic growth rates of between 5 – 7 per cent in the last five years and this is now projected to be around 4 per cent per annum. With the exception of Zimbabwe, the average inflation rates slowed down to less than 10 per cent.
In this regard, we have also received a report from the Ministers responsible for Finance and Investment, emanating from their meeting that took place here in Cape Town on February 25, 2009, specifically to look at the impact of the global economic crisis on our region as well as to receive a report by the Government of Zimbabwe on the economic situation in that country, on the basis of which a regionally supported economic recovery programme was crafted by the ministers. The report from the Zimbabwean delegation entailed the short-term budgetary requirements for its economic recovery programme. In this regard, the Ministers noted the unprecedented levels of hyperinflation and the loss of value of the currency resulting in the use of multiple currencies; sustained periods of negative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates; low productive capacity and severe de-industrialisation; collapse of social services, food shortages and high levels of poverty and general public despondency.
Thus, the Ministers responsible for Finance and Investment undertook to pursue measures in support of Zimbabwe’s economic recovery programme, namely, collectively engaging bilateral and multilateral donors through SADC and the African Union; facilitating the normalisation of the status of Zimbabwe at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the lifting of sanctions, both political and financial within the spirit of the Global Political Agreement, and convening an Extra-ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government to consider the financing proposals submitted by Zimbabwe.
2.2 Political situation in the Region
The SADC Region remains generally calm. Like any other region of the world, there remains room for improvement and SADC has marked the following progress:
2.2.1 Republic of Zimbabwe
The Extra Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government of January 26, 2009 paved the way for the current developments in Zimbabwe, namely, the swearing in, on February 11, 2009, of The Right Honourable Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister and the two deputies the Hon. Prof. Arthur Mutambara and the Hon. Ms Thokozani Khupe. This was followed by the swearing in of ministers on February 13, 2009 and the Government of National Unity is in now in place.
2.2.2 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The arrest of Rebel leader, Mr. Laurent Nkunda paved the way for further dialogue between the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and rebels in Eastern DRC. The integration of the rebel forces is now underway with the commencement of the implementation of the Amani Peace Agreement under which all armed groups in DRC have agreed to disband, with some joining the national government forces, and others are to be demobilised. It also resulted in the repatriation of negative forces to their countries, i.e., Former Defence Personnel of Rwanda known as FDLR. Consolidating this process entails the implementation of the Nairobi Agreement under which the governments of DRC and Rwanda are engaged in dialogue to ensure peace and security in the Great Lakes Region.
Following a brief by the Prime Minister of Madagascar to the SADC Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) Troika in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 02, 2009, the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, H.M. King Mswati III of Swaziland fielded an assessment mission to Madagascar. The first mission was undertaken by SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Tomaz Augusto Salomão on February 06 – 08, 2009 where he held consultations with H. E. Mr. Marc Ravalomanana, the President of Madagascar, Prime Minister and other stakeholders.
The second assessment mission from February 14 – 21, 2009 was led by MCO Chairperson Hon. Lufto Dlamini, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Swaziland. This mission held consultations with all stakeholders, namely, the Government, diplomatic missions, civil society and representatives of churches in Madagascar as well as the former Mayor of Antananarivo, Mr. Andry Rajoelina.
After this mission, the President and the Mayor held several meetings that temporarily calmed the situation in Madagascar. However, the breakdown in the negotiations a few days ago render the situation unpredictable and requires close monitoring by all stakeholders in the region and the international Community at large.
Council during this sitting deliberated on the security and political situation in Madagascar and resolved that:
(a) SADC supports the current dialogue process in Madagascar and
urges all parties to the negotiations to remain committed to the process until a peaceful solution has been found;
(b) SADC urges all parties to the dialogue to respect rule of law and
refrain from the use of violence in resolving their differences;
(c) SADC regrets the loss of lives, injuries and damage to property;
(d) SADC urges all parties to respect the democratic principles and values in Madagascar.
(e) SADC will not entertain illegal removal of the legitimate Government from power; and
(f) SADC will provide assistance to Madagascar in terms of training of the security forces and antiriot equipment.
2.2.4 Elections in the Region
SADC continues to uphold democracy as indicated, by, amongst others, the holding of regular democratic elections of the region’s leaders in every Member States. This year, at least seven (7) SADC Member States are set to hold general elections between April and December this year, starting with South Africa in April 2009; Malawi in May; Angola in September/October; Botswana in October; Namibia in November and Mozambique in November/ December.
2.2.5 SADC Position on United States of Africa
In as much as SADC supports the integration of Africa, we first seek regional integration before we proceed to the continental integration as a gradual approach in accordance with the decision of the Extra Ordinary Summit meeting of SADC Heads of State and Government held in October 2006 in Midrand, South Africa.
3. IMPLEMENTATION OF COUNCIL DECISIONS
3.1 Restructuring of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA)
Pursuant to Council’s decision to restructure the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) accord it the status of an autonomous subsidiary of SADC. Its transitional Road map commenced in January 2008 and will be completed in March, 2009. Effectively, a Memorandum of Understanding which defines the working relationship between SADC and RETOSA shall be signed by SADC Executive Secretary and the Chairperson of the RETOSA Board of Directors.
In pursuit of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit decision of October 22, 2008 for the establishment of a Free Trade Area of the three Regional Economic Communities (RECs) with the ultimate aim of establishing a single Customs Union (CU), Council noted that progress has been made with a Roadmap put in place covering the following areas:
A feasibility study, methodology and timelines for the creation of the FTA and the facilitation of free movement of business persons; implementation of joint programmes of regional infrastructure development; finalisation of legal and institutional framework for the Tripartite Framework and arrangements for the North-South Pilot Corridor Donors Conference for the submission of bankable projects taking place in Lusaka on 06 – 07April 2009. The conference seeks to provide high-level support for the implementation of the Tripartite Summit decisions, secure commitment from International Financial Institutions, donors and the private sector as well as Aid for Trade to finance identified project in transport, trade facilitation and development.
3.3 Hashim Mbita Project
Council noted the significant progress made in the implementation of this Project, documenting the history of the liberation struggle both from oral interviews with participants in the liberation struggle, as well as with various liberation movements’ leaders, guerrilla fighters and supporters of the liberation struggle in their ranks. Also, research has been carried out in the core countries in which liberation wars were waged, namely, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as in the Frontline states of Botswana, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, and other SADC Member States of Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland. The findings of the research and oral interviews shall be published in two volumes. The research has now progressed towards research in other African countries and organisations outside the SADC Region and the world at large which supported and contributed in various ways, to the success of the liberation struggle. These will be fused and published as volume three, subtitled “Countries in solidarity and support of the liberation struggle in Southern Africa”
4. FINANCES & BRIEF PROGRAMME FOCUS SUMMARY
First, let me proudly state, and congratulate all our Member States for having paid their contributions to the SADC Secretariat for the year 2008/09.
4.1 2008/09 Expenditure Report
During the period under review, the Secretariat has utilised the resources allocated to it, expending at least 88% of the budgeted US$26, 200 from the Member States contributions, and at least 106% of the original budget of US$24, 534, 279 from the International Cooperating Partners (ICPs).
4.2 2009/2010 Budget
Council approved a total of US$53, 884 SADC institutions budget for the fiscal year 2009/2010 to be funded as follows:
Member States Contributions 24, 771
Development partners 28,187
Other income 990
4.3 Brief Programme Focus Summary
These funds will be utilised for the implementation of the Secretariat’s Strategic Plan, towards the achievement of the Region’s long term goal of deepening regional economic integration as follows:
4.3.1 Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation
In this area, the budget shall be utilised to implement programmes pertaining to peace and security, including the operationalisation of the SADC Brigade, in line with African Union Standby Force Roadmap that stipulates that by 2010, the African Union Standby Force should be operational with all RECs Standby Brigades having carried out preparedness exercises in 2009 and an exercise of the whole African Standby Force in 2010. The resources shall also be utilised to monitor the elections in the region which in turn will help the Region to ensure compliance of Member States in the holding of regular democratic elections in 2009. In this regard, two structures shall be established, namely, the Mediation Unit and the SADC Elections Advisory Council shall be established, which is a unit of the Organ that looks into election issues.
4.3.2 Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI)
In this area of TIFI the just approved budget will help SADC advance its agenda in the implementation of the FTA which was officially launched in august 2008; particularly, trade facilitation and customs modernisation. To prepare the Region to achieve the next milestones in the economic integration process, the resources will be used to implement activities related to preparation of the SADC Customs Union (CU) and the Common Market (CM). Specifically, the resources will be used to implement activities related to: Macroeconomic convergence programme; harmonisation of policies leading to the liberalisation of the current and capital accounts of the balance of payment; facilitation of the Project Preparation and Development Facility (PPDF); and Development of a framework for enhancing productive competitiveness of the industrial sector of the region.
4.3.3 Infrastructure and Services
In the area of Infrastructure and Services, the just approved budget shall be applied to implement projects contained in the SADC Infrastructure Development Master Plan, namely: to facilitate the scaling up of the development of infrastructure to bring about deepening of SADC’s regional integration as well as accord SADC citizens and business the much needed universal access to infrastructure, as a way of reducing the cost of doing business as well as addressing the supply side constraints. Priority intervention areas in this regard include coordination of priority projects relating to power generation and transmission given the prevailing power crisis; the development of SADC corridors to facilitate intra-SADC trade; developing regionally integrated broadband Information Communication Technology (ICT) connectivity as well as water supply and sanitation projects.
4.3.4 Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR)
In this area, the budget will mostly be used to monitor progress in the implementation of the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security. Specific provisions have been allocated to the weather/rainfall forecasts, crop production assessments, and overall coordination of agriculture information. The budget also caters for policy coordination and harmonisation in the agricultural inputs such as seed, fertiliser and land reform aimed at promoting agricultural production and productivity. The FANR Directorate will use part of the approved budget to coordinate and facilitate policies and activities to control the spread of transboundary crop and animal diseases such as the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) which deprave farmers of their income and act as main non-tariff barrier to trade. FMD in particular was given special attention at this meeting because of the recent outbreak in most of our Member States which threaten trade and are very costly to constrain. The approved budget will also support agriculture research undertaken by a consortium of research institutions in our Member States on competitive basis. The last area which will also be supported is the conservation, management and utilisation of our natural resources and the biodiversity. This specifically includes the development of a protocol on environment, climate change, implementation of protocols on wildlife, fisheries and forestry as well as the conservation of the plant generic materials though the SADC Plan Generic Resource Centre (gene bank) SPGRC.
4.3.5 Social and Human Development & Special Projects
In this area, programmes shall focus on interventions relating to the prevention and control of major communicable diseases such as HIV and AIDS, malaria and TB at regional level as well as public health programmes. Attention shall also be paid to priority issues in the areas of education and training, labour and empowerment and promotion of science and technology and innovation.
4.3.6 Gender & Development
In the area of Gender and Development, efforts shall be intensified to implement projects in policy development and harmonisation, gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment. This includes activities to popularise the recently signed Protocol on Gender and Development, with advocacy activities to facilitate the fast-tracking of ratification of this Protocol. On women’s empowerment programmes, regional activities on women in politics and decisions making capacity building, gender based violence, women economic empowerment, human trafficking, especially of women and children shall be implemented, while in the area of policy development and harmonisation, focus shall be on the harmonisation of the regional gender policy with the national gender policies. Gender mainstreaming programme will focus on finalising the SADC Gender Work Place policy and implementation of the SADC Gender mainstreaming toolkit as well as capacity building for all the SADC Secretariat directorates on gender mainstreaming.
4.3.7 Policy, Planning and Resource Mobilisation
In this area, due focus shall be given to policy and programme development for the coming fiscal year, policy analysis and appraisal and result-based monitoring and the implementation of the resource mobilisation strategy.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, in short, this is the outcome of the SADC Council of Ministers that has been underway here since yesterday.
Thank you for your attention.
For further enquiries: Mr Ronnie Mamoepa: 082 990 4853
Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
27 February 2009