Mugabe pays tribute to Malawi, blasts SADC for aid dependence

SADC’s continued over reliance on the generosity and good will of donors is compromising the ownership and sustainability of its programmes, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe  has said.

President Mutharika and Mugabe shaking hands after handover of SADC chairmanship  in Zimbabwe - Pic by Stanley Makuti, Mana
President Mutharika and Mugabe shaking hands after handover of SADC chairmanship in Zimbabwe – Pic by Stanley Makuti, Mana
Mugabe launches a book - Pic by Stanley Makuti, Mana
Mugabe launches a book – Pic by Stanley Makuti, Mana

Mugabe, Africa’s oldest leader and one of its longest-serving, was speaking at the opening of a two-day summit of the 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls tourist resort.

The summit is being held under the theme, the theme is entitled “SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition.”

SADC will also develop a Strategy to implement this theme, which is key for industrialization in the SADC Region.

“On budgetary issues there is need for SADC to work hard to find innovative ways of generating resources to bankroll its operations and projects,” SADC Council of Ministers chairperson Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told the press.

Mugabe, known for his fiery speeches, took over the mantle form Malawi President Peter Mutharika, who was at the helm for two months since his elections victory in Malawi’s tripartite polls on May 2014.

“Allow me to begin by paying tribute to Malawi, the outgoing chair of SADC, which under the able leadership of Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda and later our colleague Mutharika, guided the affairs of our organisation,” he said.

Mugabe said there is need for SADC to focus on interventions that have the greatest impact of 277 million lives of its people.

“How can we proudly claim SADC to be our own organisation when close to 60 per cent of the programmes are externally funded?” he queried.

The new SADC Chair said there is need for the body to be focused its programmes, plans and priorities so that it does not lose sight of the regional integration agenda.

“We should also not be tempted to introduce or embrace too many programmes which in the long run we fail to fund from our own resources.

“We therefore feel that the current process underway to review the Regional Integrated Strategic Development Programme should not be a mere academic exercise but a reality check which should redirect us,” Mugabe said.

He said the review of the RISDP would culminate with fewer and focused programmes aimed at strengthening our economies and improve the lives of our people.

“SADC should also wean itself from exporting raw materials but instead seek to create value chains that lead to exportation of finished goods,” the new SADC Chairperson said.

Officially opening the summit outgoing Chairperson, Mutharika said tduring Malawi’s tenure as the Chairperson, SADC made immense strides in the pursuance of the regional socio-economic development agenda.

For instance, he cited the on-going consolidation of the SADC Free-Trade Area, negotiations for the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free-Trade Area and the laying of the foundation for the Continental Free Trade Area.

On this year’s theme, Mutharika said it is critical that SADC continues to strengthen the industrialisation in its member countries, through the implementation of the key facets of our “Industrialisation Pillar.”

“I am excited to note that the theme of the Incoming Chairperson seeks to strengthen this initiative. I encourage the Region to rally behind the Chairperson, to ensure successful implementation of this painful but necessary process,” he said.

Days before the summit, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human rights said SADC’s credibility was at stake if the bloc did not address human rights violations among its members, including arrests of political activists and journalists.

The groups cited Malawi,  Angola, Swaziland and Zambia as having committed human rights violations. Mugabe and Miutharika did not address the allegations in their speeches.

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