INTERNATIONAL relations permanent secretary Selma Ashipala-Musavyi says the Southern African Development Community must do more to ensure peace, security and regional integration.
She made the statement yesterday after assuming the chairpersonship of the standing committee of senior officials during the opening of the 38th SADC summit of heads of state and government in Windhoek.
While there has been some progress in some sectors, such as "infrastructural connectivity" and the economic development and trade sector, Ashipala-Musavyi said the region needed to do more in order to enhance integration and ensure peace and security to achieve "our objective of the Africa we want".
She urged member states to implement SADC programmes and strategies that have been adopted for the benefit of "all our people, and ensure that they have a better life and a brighter future".
"You might also agree with me that more still needs to be done in order to achieve our objectives. The issues contained in the agenda before us are pertinent to sustained economic growth and sustainable development in the region.
"We should continue to find lasting solutions to ensure that peace and security prevail in our region, for without peace, there would be no regional integration for development," she stated.
The summit is being held under the theme 'Promoting infrastructure development and youth empowerment for sustainable development'.
Ashipala-Musavyi said this theme illustrated that infrastructure development and youth empowerment went hand in hand, and were vital in driving SADC towards industrialisation. The theme also spoke to regional socio-economic realities.
Outgoing chair of the committee Sandile Schalk also emphasised the need for member states to implement and follow priorities set out in SADC's frameworks, such as the regional strategic development plan, the industrialisation strategy and roadmap, as well as the strategic indicative plan.
He said these frameworks were crucial to advancing regional economic integration through increased industrialisation and infrastructure development.
"We should be mindful of the collective responsibility that we have to sustainably improve the quality of life, opportunities and prosperity of the people of southern Africa through the realisation of sustainable economic development and regional integration," he stressed. Yesterday's event was the first of a series of pre-summit events to take place before the official opening of the main summit next week.
SADC's committee on finance, as well as the council of ministers, will meet today and on Monday before the main summit on Friday.
Namibia will take over the SADC chairmanship at the main event from South Africa.
Namibia last hosted such an event in 1992, during the historic summit held in Windhoek, where leaders from the region signed the SADC treaty and declaration which effectively transformed the then Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) into the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The SADC summit is responsible for the overall policy direction of the bloc.