Opening Remarks by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at the Ministerial Committee of Organ of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Pretoria, 30 July 2012

Your Excellencies, Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,  
Senior Officials of the MCO,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Welcome to South Africa. The convening of this statutory SADC Ministerial Committee of the Organ meeting in South Africa is indeed a great honour and privilege for the Government and people of South Africa.

We are delighted to have you in our midst at this meeting, which marks yet another important step towards the deeper integration of our region and a near completion of our work within the Organ structure before the Summit which we will attend in Mozambique next month.

It is indeed my pleasure to extend a very warm welcome to Your Excellencies, your delegations, invited guests, members of the media and everyone who will clearly contribute towards the success of this meeting. I trust that you will find the arrangements put at your disposal conducive to successful deliberations and your personal comfort.

It is once again a great honour and privilege for me to preside over this meeting, which has to review the work done by the Interstate Defence and Security Committee and the Interstate Politics and Diplomacy Committee of our MCO throughout the year and to provide strategic direction to our Organisation as a collective.

Your Excellencies, The fact that you have made arrangements to attend this meeting is again testimony to the importance we all attach to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and its continued good standing as a leading regional formation.

For all of us in the SADC family, this Organization is the principal vehicle for peace, stability and security and an important catalyst in our efforts for regional integration, the harmonization of policies and a central platform through which we should continue to give expression to the vision of a prosperous, peaceful and stable region that will undoubtedly help us realise our central objective of the regeneration of our continent.

Your Excellencies, during our Extra Ordinary Meetings in Luanda and here in Pretoria in early July, we committed ourselves as a region to campaign for our candidate to assume the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission.  We stood united in our view that the principle of rotation in the AU and its Organs should be respected. Most importantly we argued successfully that the Southern Region is long overdue in having its chance to lead this august continental body.

I am elated that we succeeded in this venture and am especially humbled by the unwavering support in word and in deed that led to the historical outcome achieved in Addis Ababa. I wish to express heartfelt gratitude in my personal capacity and on behalf of the government and people of South Africa.

We carry a burden of responsibility to our citizens and the continent of Africa to establish a strong and viable regional political landscape that is underpinned by principles of democratic governance and political stability able to reap the potential social and economic dividend that will flow from inter-regional trade and effective regional economic integration.

Indeed, as we know, we will, through this meeting we continue with our efforts at helping to put Madagascar on the road to recovery and to overcome the challenges they confront.

Your Excellencies, accordingly we shall today consider/ receive reports on the mediation process Madagascar, elections in the region, the security situation in the region including the update on the situation in the DRC and progress reports on a number of sectoral issues.

Clearly, Your Excellencies, SADC will never achieve regional development and true integration, without regional stability and democratic governance which will also impact on our countries realising their true economic and developmental potential.

Your Excellencies, we clearly have an extensive agenda to deal with today. Let us accord this work our full attention and provide the necessary guidance and direction on the way forward.

With these remarks, I would like to reiterate my profound gratitude for having you all at this venue and I am confident that we will have successful deliberations.

I thank you.

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