Welcome Statement by Incoming SADC Chairperson H.E Mr Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa and Host of the 37th Ordinary SADC Summit, DIRCO, Pretoria
19 August 2017
Your Majesty King Mswati III, Chairperson of SADC,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
SADC Executive Secretary,
Members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to welcome you to South Africa on the occasion of the 37th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government.
We are more thrilled that we welcome you in a building is named after one of the icons of our liberation struggle and one of Africa's greatest patriots, Oliver Reginald Tambo, fondly known to many as OR.
Moreover, on 27 October 2017 OR Tambo would have celebrated his 100th birthday.
It is in this context that the South African government has declared 2017 the year of OR Tambo.
As leader of our liberation struggle, OR Tambo tirelessly mobilised international solidarity against the unjust apartheid regime which was also a major force of destabilisation in our region.
His leadership also led to the creation of a democratic South Africa, whose Constitution is built on the values OR Tambo championed for the better part of his adult life.
It is therefore important that as we observe this year and this incredible figure in our nation's history, that we draw inspiration from his exemplary leadership and from the vision that accorded him the accolade of an international statesman and an astute, consummate diplomat.
We further wish to acknowledge and pay tribute to our leaders that passed on recently and who fought for our collective freedom and contributed towards our region's liberation.
We remember and salute the role of both Former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire and the Namibian liberation struggle stalwart and former Minister, Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo.
We appreciate the achievements of both these giants for their sacrifices and will continue to be inspired by their legacies.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
2017 symbolises an important year for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as it marks the Jubilee celebration of our organisation.
As such, the time is opportune for all of us as Heads of States and Government, to take stock of the progress as well as opportunities created since SADC's inception.
As a region we have a blueprint, the Revised Regional Integration Strategic Development Programme (2015-2020) to guide our economic development and integration.
Commendable progress in implementation has been made with the development of the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, the Industrialisation as well as Strategy and Roadmap.
This meeting of Heads of State and Government is important as it gives us an opportunity to engage on the progress and challenges in terms of implementing our SADC Integration Agenda during this past year.
We should also foster an environment for reflection on the future strategic direction of the region post-2020.
We therefore wish to welcome the process initiated during Swaziland's Chairship, which saw SADC embarking upon a project to renew its vision.
Specifically, the March 2017 SADC Ministerial Retreat held under a policy framework –SADC WE WANT which has built on our continental Agenda 2063.
Our collective responsibility and work in ensuring that we maintain a peaceful, stable and secure region is pertinent to attaining our objectives.
The critical need for both industrial and infrastructure development in SADC cannot be overstated.
The vision of a connected and prosperous African continent in the form of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) finds expression in the work of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), where negotiations continue to aspire towards enhancing intra-regional trade and market integration.
These initiatives are geared towards creating employment, improving manufacturing, enhancing development and addressing poverty alleviation in the SADC region specifically.
As the Incoming Chair of SADC, South Africa has been working closely with the Kingdom of Swaziland and the SADC Secretariat towards ensuring a smooth transition.
I would therefore like to extend my gratitude to all involved in these processes thus far.
Finally, I wish to emphasise that South Africa remains committed towards building on our gains made thus far, as well as identifying solutions to challenges that have impeded on our progress.
It is important that we remember this point – SADC is our organisation and as such, our plans will only be driven if they are implemented at the national level.
What is needed now is to enhance our collective responsibility towards the realisation of our objectives.
I thank you!
Issued by The Presidency