Welcome Statement by His Excellency JG Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the Extra-ordinary Meeting of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government, South Africa, 20 June 2009

Your Majesty,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to welcome our esteemed guests to South Africa.

The convening and hosting of this SADC Extra-Ordinary Summit is not only a privilege for me, but also for the Government and the People of the Republic of South Africa.

This, our very first Summit since our inauguration last month, provides an opportunity for us to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the various Heads of State and Government who graced us with their presence at the inauguration.

Such support gave us strength and reassured us that we are going to continue working together for the common good of the region and the continent.

Honourable and distinguished guests,

As you will be aware, this Extra-Ordinary Summit coincides with the FIFA Confederations Football Cup, with games being played in Tshwane, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Rustenburg. South Africa is honoured to welcome visitors from all parts of the world to South Africa and to Africa.

It is thanks to the unity of purpose of African states, among others, that South Africa was awarded the honour and privilege to host the FIFA World Cup in 2010.

It is our fervent wish that those who visit our shores to watch both the Confederations Cup and the World Cup in 2010 will explore the exciting experiences that the entire SADC region has to offer.

For countries of the region, SADC serves as the principal vehicle for the achievement of further regional development and deeper integration as outlined at the level of the African Union. Thus, our individual futures are inextricably linked to that of our neighbours and to the future of our continent.

SADC strives for the achievement of balanced and equitable regional integration as a fundamental condition for the sustainable development of the region.

Furthermore, SADC strives to liberate those within our borders from the scourge of unemployment, poverty, and underdevelopment.

The 13th Ordinary Summit of the African Union is scheduled to take place from the first to third of July 2009 in Sirte, Libya. The Summit theme is "Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security".

One of the important issues to be deliberated upon during the Summit is the creation of proper regional and continental conditions to promote viable foreign and domestic investment in agriculture. Among other things, this will ensure that Africa achieves food security and is able to exploit an area in which it possesses a competitive economic advantage.

As SADC, it is incumbent upon us to develop clear and unequivocal positions to drive the agenda to make ours a self-sufficient and competitive region in the area of food production and agro-processing. Founded on our fundamental belief in the value of unity of purpose, we appeal for SADC to present a united front at the forthcoming AU deliberations. We remain convinced that the important objective of integrating the Continent rests on strong regional pillars.

Finally and most importantly, we are also convinced of the necessity of peace and security in our region as a necessary condition for economic growth and social stability.

To this end we are heartened to note the progress that is being made in our neighbourhood. We regret the current political and security situation in Madagascar. We are cognisant of and applaud the work undertaken by the Organ Troika as well as other stakeholders beyond our region.

We believe that peace will be achieved if all parties to the conflict are committed to the process. It is crucial that there be an inclusive political dialogue, where all the relevant parties and stakeholders have an opportunity to be part of finding a resolution.

The foundation to an equitable solution in Madagascar should draw from the constitutional and democratic principles that are enshrined in the SADC Treaty and in the AU Constitutive Act, and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

Furthermore, these over-arching principles are to be found in the UN Charter.

Excellencies, we can benefit from SADC's past successes in attaining peace and security. Let us draw upon our experience and collective wisdom to find fair, just, equitable and inclusive solutions, so that SADC member States may benefit from political stability, peace and security.

In so doing the region can benefit from the political stability and socio-economic progress that we all so earnestly seek. In our deliberations, let us be mindful of the fact that today is World Refugee Day. Working together we need to strive to achieve that ultimately no African becomes a refugee because of failure to resolve political differences in any part of the continent.

It sounds like a mammoth task but it is an achievable goal if we work in unison.

With these few words, I once more welcome you to the Republic of South Africa, and trust that our deliberations will be fruitful and rewarding.

I thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency
20 June 2009

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