Lilongwe — The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government Summit started on Saturday, August 10, 2013 in Lilongwe with the meeting of members of the Standing Committee of Senior Officials.
The meeting, which was held at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC), was chaired by the Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, George Mkondiwa and co- chaired by the Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr. Tomaz Augusto Salomão.
Among the issues discussed during the meeting included the status of finances for the year 2013/14, status of contributions from member states, HIV/ AIDS projects, Madagascar meditation and review of the implementation of Council's decisions.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana), Mkondiwa said the meeting was very essential as it laid down the platform for issues to be discussed by the Heads of State.
Mkondiwa explained that the hottest issue in the meeting was the issue of Madagascar's outstanding balances of contributions to the SADC membership.
"As you know, Madagascar was suspended because of political problems, but that does not mean that the contributions are also suspended. So, in the meantime, Madagascar has an outstanding balance of USD 8Million (about K 2.7 billion).
"So, as a committee we have just agreed that we will only count Madagascar's contribution, but not include it in the budget because as it stands the country may not pay back the money," Mkondiwa said.
He then said the issues agreed during the meeting will be submitted to the SADC Council of Ministers, who will then present to the Heads of State meeting between 17 and 18 August, 2013.
"This meeting will end on Sunday and after that we will scrutinize all the discussions and write down the draft which will first be sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Thereafter, it will be submitted to the SADC Council of Ministers where they will also deliberate on the issues before handing over the issues to the Heads of States meeting," he explained.
In his remarks, Dr. Salomão encouraged the spirit of oneness among African countries.
He said it is only through unity that the SADC Summit would be successful and deal with the problems Africa is currently facing.
The 33rd Ordinary Heads of State and Government SADC Summit will see Malawi President Dr. Joyce Banda taking over as SADC Chairperson.