A FORCE: Speaking with one voice is the aim of the SADC. Dr Augusto Salomao here in conversation with Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. Picture: UNATI NGAMNTWINI
Regional co-operation and stability continue to be placed at the top of the agenda of SADC member states in their drive to make the block speak in one voice on issues affecting the continent.
This was the sense given by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in her address to the statutory SADC Ministerial Committee of Organ, (MCO) meeting in Pretoria yesterday.
The need for SADC to assert itself as a continental force to reckon with began with the united front the region presented to have Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma elected as the first southern African – and a female – to head the African Union Commission (AUC).
For this Nkoana-Mashabane conveyed her gratitude: “We committed ourselves as a region to campaign for our candidate to assume the position of chairperson of the AU commission. We stood united in our view that the principle of rotation in the AU and its organs should be respected.
“We argued successfully that the southern region is long overdue in having its chance to lead this august continental body.”
But there’s more at stake than just prevailing over Francophone Africa.
This meeting “marks yet another important step towards the deeper integration of our region and a near completion of our work within the organ structure before the summit which we will attend in Mozambique next month”. The purpose of the meeting, according to the minister, was to review the work done by the Interstate Defence and Security and the Interstate Politics and Diplomacy Committees of the MCO throughout the year and to provide strategic direction for the collective.
“For all of us in the SADC, this organisation is the vehicle for peace, stability and security, and a catalyst for regional integration, the harmonisation of policies and a platform through which we should continue to give expression to the vision of a prosperous, peaceful and stable region that will help us realise our objective of the regeneration of our continent.”
Nkoana-Mashabane could not emphasise hard enough the responsibility SADC carried “to our citizens and the continent to establish a strong and viable regional political landscape that is underpinned by principles of democratic governance and political stability”.
The volatile situation in Madagascar also received attention and needed collective SADC efforts to put the country on “the road to recovery and to overcome the challenges they confront”.