Angola gets Security Council support
SADC leaders are backing Angola’s candidature for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2015/2016.
This was one of the several outcomes of the recent 33rd Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Angola’s Foreign Affairs Minister Manuel Augusto said after the Summit, “It was (important) to have the support of the region so that we may run for the seat of non-permanent Member of the UN Security Council.”
The UN Security Council comprises five permanent members with veto power and 10 elective non-permanent ones without veto and who serve a two-year term.
Africa has been pushing for a reform of the UN Security Council to reflect changing global political and economic dynamics so that the continent also gets veto power on the powerful organ.
Russia, China, the US, Britain and France assigned themselves permanent membership of the Security Council after World War II.
Africa wants two permanent, veto-wielding seats.
On the security front, SADC leaders noted progress in resolving the political crisis in Madagascar, as well ongoing negotiations between the DRC government and M23 rebels – but called for firm timelines to expedite these processes.
The Summit condemned the Western-backed coup in Egypt that saw the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi and called for a speedy return to a democratically elected government in that country.
Leaders commended Zimbabwe for conducting a free and peaceful election and congratulated President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party on their landslide victory.
Another key outcome was reiteration of commitment to establishment of a free trade area (FTA) to boost economic integration.
The leaders’ communiqué went on to read: “Summit reviewed the status of the implementation of the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP) adopted in 2012, and noted progress made in marketing of the infrastructure projects elaborated by the Master Plan through infrastructure investment conferences held within the region and abroad.”
Major infrastructure development projects identified to boost regional integration include one-stop-border posts and joint power stations.
Malawi’s President Joyce Banda is SADC Chair for 2013/14, with President Mugabe as her deputy.
Namibia’s President Hifikepunye Pohamba assumed chairmanship of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, with Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Motsoahae Thabane deputising.
Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax from Tanzania is the new SADC Executive Secretary, taking over from Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomão whose tenure came to an end.
Health and Gender
Member states reaffirmed their desire to combat HIV and AIDS and called for the intensification of provision of free anti-retroviral treatment to citizens.
And Head of the SADC Gender and Development programme Magdalene Madibela said the region’s gender protocol had now entered force after at least two thirds of the bloc’s membership deposited instruments of ratification.
“I am happy to announce … that the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development has entered into force. We have already received sufficient ratifications for the protocol now to be in effect,” she said.
“So essentially SADC member states are now ready to champion and implement the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and effectively deliver on the commitments member states have made for gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
Madibela highlighted challenges faced by women in SADC.
“Access to property and resources are some of the challenges we are facing in this region as you know, women don’t have access to land women don’t have access to property, women continue to suffer,” she said.
Madibela lamented the levels of gender-based violence in the region, saying; “We are really looking at addressing the problem from the legal point of view putting in place the appropriate legislation to address the problem.”
Earlier delegates to the People’s Summit, which is now held annually on the sidelines of the Heads of State and Government Summit, petitioned regional leaders on various issues of concern to ordinary people.
The roughly 250 delegates of the Southern Africa People’s Solidarity Network called on leaders to address harmful taxes, low investment in agriculture and opacity on the nature of FDI among other matters.
“As civil society organisations in the region we will continue lobbying our leaders in order to safe guard our natural resources by putting in place appropriate policies,” read part of their petition.
The group said it would mobilise peaceful protests to petition the African Union to act on illicit financial flows from the continent.
It is estimated that Africa loses at least US$50 billion annually through illicit financial flows, a figure double what the continent gets in official development assistance. In the last three decades, experts say, Africa has lost more than US$1 trillion.
The Southern Africa People’s Solidarity Network brings together – among others – representatives of farmers, labour unions, religious bodies, youth groups and campaigners for economic justice.
Reporting by Jeff Kapembwa in Lilongwe and Farirai Machivenyika in Harare.