President Jacob Zuma says 2017 symbolises an important year for the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Zuma has officially opened the 37th SADC Heads of State Summit, bringing Southern African regional leaders together in Pretoria.

Swaziland has handed over the position of SADC chair to South Africa. Zuma says it is time for members to take stock of the progress as well as opportunities created since SADC’s inception.

“As the incoming chair of SADC, 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.”

Zuma also appealed to regional leaders to intensify efforts to bring lasting peace and stability in the bloc. He says the development of infrastructure in the SADC region remains critical.

“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.”

Handing over the chairing of SADC to President Zuma, King Mswati thanked SADC for the opportunity to lead the organisation over the last 12 months, saying they look forward to Zuma’s leadership.

“We are confident that South Africa under the leadership of President Zuma will lead our organisation to greater heights. We are witness to his astute leadership which has uplifted the social and economic wellbeing of the people .We have been impressed by the tremendous development that has taken place in this country. We look forward to the President sharing his leadership experiences that will go a long way in helping countries in the region to attain the developed status.”

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– By SABC TV Desk