17 March 2017

Zimbabwe: President Off to Swaziland

President Mugabe leaves for Ezulwini, Swaziland, today to attend an Extraordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government that opens at Lozitha Royal Palace tomorrow.

He will join other Heads of State and Government for the special indaba on Industrialisation and Regional Integration.

The meeting is in fulfilment of the decision made by regional leaders last year to hold annual special summits for the purpose of reviewing industrialisation and integration of SADC economies.

The SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap was steered by President Mugabe during his tenure as Sadc Chair (August 2014-August 2015).

Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba told The Herald last night that the special summit was a follow-up to President Mugabe's initiation of conversation around industrialisation and regional integration.

He said: "It was during President Mugabe's tenure as chair of SADC that the issue of industrialisation and making sure that SADC economies value add in order to develop and create jobs was brought to the table.

"Because of that contribution, a special summit was convened in Harare at that time to address that specific issue. Because it was so successful, SADC took a decision to make it an annual event in between summits devoted to industrialisation, beneficiation and integration of regional economies.

"That is the basis of the Swaziland summit, which the President will be attending."

Information obtained from the Foreign Affairs Ministry shows that the summit was expected to consider the implementation of the Draft Cost Action Plan for the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.

The roadmap is anchored on three pillars - industrialisation, enhanced competitiveness and deeper regional integration.

Its strategic interventions involve refining policies, increasing public and private sector investment volumes, creating regional value chains and boosting value addition.

The Herald also understands that the summit will consider a report of the Ministerial Taskforce on Regional Economic Integration: Industrialisation and Regional Economic Integration which covers the roadmap's action plan.

Also under consideration will be the taskforce's proposed milestones for monitoring implementation of the strategy and the governance structure.

Progress on the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will also be reviewed.

The TFTA, which brings together Comesa, the East African Community (EAC) and CFTA are designed to promote intra-regional trade and invest- ment.

The summit is preceded by several meetings including a meeting of senior officials of the Ministerial Taskforce; the Finance Committee; the standing committee of senior officials; the Ministerial Taskforce on Regional Economic Integration; a strategic ministerial retreat; and the Council of Ministers.

The strategic outcomes of the Ministerial retreat, which include assessing the integration agenda to determine what needs to be done to create "The SADC We Want", will also be tabled.


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