SADC summit to bid farewell to Angola’s Dos Santos

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Regional leaders are expected in South Africa for the forthcoming 37th Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held at the Department of International Relations in Pretoria next month, an official said on Thursday.

“It is my pleasure to brief you on the forthcoming 37th SADC Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held in this [OR Tambo] building from 10 to 20 August. The 37th SADC Ordinary Summit will take place three days before the Republic of Angola holds its general elections, scheduled for August 23. The elections in Angola will see President Jose Eduardo dos Santos stepping down after 37 years as president,” deputy director-general responsible for Africa at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation Xolisa Makaya told media in Pretoria.

“The SADC summit therefore is expected not only to bid farewell to President Dos Santos but also to thank him profoundly for his invaluable contribution and role in the liberation struggle in Southern Africa as well as the formation of the then Frontline States and later the SADC.”

Significantly, Makaya said the 37th SADC Ordinary Summit will coincide with the 25th anniversary of the formation of the regional bloc, formed on August 17, 1992 in Windhoek, Namibia. The total membership has since grown to 15 member states.

“You will recall that it was during the 36th SADC Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Swaziland in 2016, that President Jacob Zuma was elected as the incoming chair of SADC 2016/17. Hence, the hosting by South Africa of the 37th SADC Ordinary Summit during which President Zuma will take over the chairmanship of SADC,” said Makaya.

He said troubled areas in the region – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho and Madagascar – would be on the agenda during the high level meeting.

South Africa previously chaired SADC in the period of August 2008 to August 2009. However, during the intervening period, South Africa chaired the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation from 2011 to 2012 and from 2014 to 2015, respectively.

The theme for South Africa’s chairmanship is “Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value chains”.
Makaya said it is worth noting that the preoccupation of the region at present is regional economic integration.

“The theme therefore addresses this key priority. South Africa’s theme addresses two key issues to help move the industrialization programme in the region: the first around ‘partnering with the private sectors’, is focused on the need to build up the region’s capabilities both inside and outside government to support industry; and the second component of the theme around ‘developing industry and regional value chains’, complements the first, with a focus to attract private sector players into the prioritised value chains,” he said.

“South Africa therefore seeks to maximise this opportunity and provide guidance on a pragmatic contribution towards the accelerated implementation of the SADC work programme. In this regard, South Africa’s strategic direction as Chair of the Summit, will be aimed at achieving two main objectives, which are, institutionalisation of the relationship between the governments and the regional private sector, and operationalisation of the SADC adopted Industrialisation Policy and its Costed Action Plan.”

The SADC summit is features a senior officials meeting from August 11 to 14, a ministerial meeting on August 16, the Double Troika on August 18 and the actual summit of heads of State and government on August 19 and 20.

– By ANA