Salamao says SADC on course
Salomao said the wind of democracy continued sweeping through the region last year and this year as evidenced by the elections that were held at various levels in the region. “The region’s political progress on the ground speaks of milestone achievements which include but are not limited to the successful democratic elections in the United Republic of Tanzania in December 2005, local elections in the Kingdom of Lesotho in which 55 percent of winners were women and Senatorial elections in Zimbabwe and local government elections in South Africa,” said Salomao. He was speaking in the Namibian capital, Windhoek during the just ended SADC Consultative Conference held from 26 to 27th April which attracted ministers and senior government officials from all the SADC member countries as well as 23 other governments and 40 regional and international cooperating organisations. Salamoa said the SADC Consultative Conference was taking place at a time the Secretariat had just finished restructuring SADC institutions and had started with the implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security (SIPO) for which the gathering was mainly about.”We have already unbundled the RISDP into 15 years, five years and one-year implementation plans. Another imperative in this is a mainstreamed participation of the region’s stakeholders, namely, the business sector and the civil society, and the region’s blueprints have made clear provision for their direct participation,” said Salomao who was quick to say the secretariat needed human resources for the implementation of the RISDP and SIPO. Gracing the conference Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba said he was happy to be associated with the restructuring taking place in SADC which is aimed at making the region achieve its goals. “It is, therefore, an honour for the government and the people of Namibia to host the first SADC consultative Conference following the implementation of the new SADC institutional structure and the adoption of the two strategic plans for the region, RISDP and SIPO,” said Pohamba. He said SADC believed in the intra-regional cooperation as well as in wider partnerships with other players from outside the region in the quest to achieve its objectives. Pohamba said the theme of the 2006 SADC Consultative Conference, “Partnership for the Implementation of the SADC RISDP and SIPO” was befitting the region’s aspirations of having home grown programmes which wielded a sense of ownership among member States notwithstanding the continued international cooperation. He emphasized the need for peace and stability in the region as a prerequisite for regional development and integration. “It is, therefore, important that the governments and the people of SADC should take all necessary steps to continue to maintain the peace and stability of all our people in the region. We should as a matter of principle, support all the efforts aimed at ensuring peace and stability in all corners of the world, because peace and stability are necessary pre-conditions for socio-economic development,” said Pohamba. He said SADC member countries were still determined to have SADC Customs Union by 2008 and also be able to have enough food to feed itself and export the surplus.