Acceptance of Chairpersonship of the SADC Council of Ministers by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Tuesday 15 August 2017
Outgoing Chairperson of Council, HRH Prince Hlangusemphi Dlamini
SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax
Deputy Executive Secretaries
Heads of Senior Officials’ delegations
SADC Secretariat officials
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with great honour and privilege that I welcome you all to the 37th SADC Council of Ministers.
I am especially pleased to welcome you to the OR Tambo Building in the year declared by our Government as the year of Oliver Reginald Tambo, who is also affectionately known as OR Tambo to our people and one of the most outstanding leaders of the liberation struggle who mobilised international solidarity against apartheid and contributed to shaping the vision of a post-apartheid democratic South Africa. As we celebrate the centenary of OR Tambo, we draw inspiration from his exemplary leadership and from the vision that accorded him the accolade of international statesman and an astute, consummate diplomat.
Allow me to also take this opportunity to thank, on behalf of all Ministers, the outgoing Chairperson of Council, HRH Prince Hlangusemphi Dlamini, for his excellent stewardship of Council.
As we may be aware, 2017 also symbolises an important year for our organisation which celebrates twenty five years this year. This silver jubilee celebration accords us an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in fostering pragmatism and cohesion in our region.
For South Africa, August is Women’s month and every year during this time, we remember the sacrifices and contribution of women in the struggle for a democratic and free nation. At the regional level, women continue to enhance our shared vision of attaining a stable, peaceful, secure and prosperous SADC community.
As Incoming Chair of the Council of Ministers, it is pertinent that I highlight the importance of the SADC Integration Agenda for South Africa and for our neighbourhood. We all remain collectively seized with the responsibility of improving lives of our people.
In our journey towards regional integration it is critical that we recognise the relationship and interconnectedness of our regional priorities and the agreed aspirations of the AU’s African Agenda 2063. Our objectives in SADC are informed by the SADC Common Agenda which in essence, comprises of our agreed blueprints such as the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020), the Regional Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ II and the Regional Infrastructure Development Masterplan.
Guided by our identified priorities as well as the leadership demonstrated by previous Chairs, South Africa’s theme for the Chairship of SADC and the 37th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government is “Partnering with the Private Sector in Developing Industry and Regional Value Chains”. The theme picks up on the already identified importance of industrialisation for the prosperity of the region and seeks to strengthen the region’s capacity to realise industrialisation and economic transformation through partnership with the private sector. In this regard, emphasis would be put on agro-processing, mineral beneficiation and pharmaceutical value chains. As such, our vision for this year is to provide policy direction and an enabling environment for a work programme that prioritises the preparation of high impact cross-border projects that are pragmatic, enhance skills, create jobs and boosts regional trade in high value goods.
As regional leaders, we carry a burden of responsibility to substantially improve the quality of life for the people of our region and to realise sustainable economic development. To this end, we cannot be found to be wanting or to have failed. As such, we must commit appropriate resources and make a concerted effort to cooperatively work together towards the SADC We Want. Further to this, we must, as Member States, support the SADC Secretariat to deliver on its annual work programme and strengthen the Secretariat’s institutional capacity and effectiveness.
Excellencies, we undoubtedly have an extensive agenda ahead of us. Let us accord the work before us the requisite attention and provide the necessary direction on the way forward.
We welcome you once more, and I trust that you will find the arrangements put at your disposal conducive to successful deliberations and to your personal comfort.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road