Your Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa
and Chairperson of SADC;
Your Excellency João Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola and
Chairperson of the Organ;
Your Excellency Paul Kagame, Chairperson of the African Union;
Your Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government;
Your Excellency Nangolo Mbumba, Vice President of the Republic of Namibia;
Esteemed First Spouses;
Your Excellencies Former Heads of State and Government;
Right Honourable Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Prime Minister of the
Republic of Namibia;
Her Excellency Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, Executive Secretary of SADC;
Honourable Speakers of the Parliaments of Angola and South Africa;
Honourable Members of Parliament;
Esteemed Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Namibia, I am
delighted to accept the Chairmanship of SADC at a time when a New Africa,
The Africa We Want, is on the rise. Africa is on the march, driven by unity of
purpose, the pursuit of common objectives and an unwavering determination
to bring about shared prosperity.
I have accepted this responsibility knowing well that the leaders of the SADC
nations have bestowed full confidence in Namibia to steer the work of this
esteemed organisation to greater heights.
We are privileged to host the 38th Ordinary Summit here in Windhoek, the
birthplace of SADC, where the SADC Treaty was adopted in 1992.
Permit me to commend the outgoing Chairperson of SADC, His Excellency
Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, for the
sterling leadership he has provided to our organisation since assuming the
Chairmanship. I further wish to thank the outgoing Chairperson of the SADC
Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, His Excellency João
Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola, for providing steady
leadership in the promotion of peace and security across our region.
My appreciation also goes to the Executive Secretary and her dedicated staff,
for the effective manner in which they continue to manage the affairs of the
The Theme for this Summit, “Promoting Infrastructure Development and
Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development,” attests to SADC’s
commitment in taking the agenda of infrastructural development forward,
and the need for the youth to be at the center of what we do. The theme is a
continuation of the industrialization trajectory of the last four Summits,
starting with Zimbabwe in 2014, Botswana in 2015, The Kingdom of Eswatini
in 2016 and South Africa in 2017. The theme guides us towards the
attainment of the goals and aspirations of the Region, as espoused in the
Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020
and the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, 2015-2063.
Infrastructural development is a catalyst for youth empowerment and job
creation. It is one of the avenues through which we can address the issue of
youth unemployment in the region.
It would be remiss of me, at this stage, not to mention the important role
that our women are playing and must continue to play in pursuit of SADC
objectives and integration agenda. Namibia has a fervent commitment to
Gender Equality, which is evident in the important role women play in
politics. They are well represented in our Executive and Legislature. The
participation of women at the highest levels of governance has been
consolidated when the ruling SWAPO Party took a principled decision at the
1997 Congress to increase the proportion of female delegates to the Party’s
congress up to 50 percent. This was the genesis of the now constitutionally
mandated SWAPO Party, Zebra style 50/50 policy.
Due to our significant progress in the area of Gender Equality, Namibia was
awarded the prize for being the top performing country in Africa by the
African Gender Forum, within the context of the Gender Is My Agenda
Campaign (GIMAC). I had the pleasure to receive this award on behalf of our
country, from Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of the
Republic of Liberia.
During its Chairmanship, Namibia intends to accelerate progress in terms of
the empowerment of women. Namibia shall encourage the harmonization of
gender responsive legislation, policies and programmes and projects, as
outlined in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
We are all aware that our aspirations of industrialization and subsequent
sustainable development cannot be pursued without the existence of robust
governance architectures within our respective countries. It is imperative
that we build on the significant progress made in our region by adopting a
modern approach to Governance, characterized by robust processes, systems
and institutions and no longer centered on personalities.
This approach is also part and parcel of the ‘The Africa We Want’, which is
characterized by fair and transparent Processes; Systems and the ethos of
Institutions that are beyond reproach. Processes, systems and institutions
are indispensable in buttressing democracy and effective governance.
I am confident that we will continue to make significant progress in the area
of governance, especially given the outstanding work of the SADC
Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) in entrenching democracy in the region.
During its chairmanship, Namibia promises to intensify discussions on the
establishment of a SADC Parliament.
We believe that the SADC Parliament will not only help buttress the
governance architecture of the region, but will also be a key driver of our
integration and development efforts.
We are pleased to note that in SADC, we have a legacy of peaceful transition
of power. Following our successes against the forces of colonial occupation,
many of our countries were ushered into the era of independence by
We are proud to have in our midst, some of those extraordinary
personalities. We therefore acknowledge the presence of Comrade Sam
Nujoma, the First President and Founding Father of the Republic of Namibia;
Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba, Second President of Namibia and His
Excellency Joaquim Chissano, Second President of Mozambique.
Their presence here today is testament to the legacy of peaceful transition of
leadership within SADC.
In the SADC Treaty, which I should remind was adopted here in Windhoek;
we committed “to ensure, through common action, the progress and well-
being of the people of Southern Africa”. I want to reassure this summit that
during my Chairmanship, Namibia will ensure that SADC pulls together in the
same direction, and works harder in order to succeed in its agenda of
development, economic cooperation and regional integration. We will
continue to promote the SADC Agenda in order to realize sustainable
development, poverty eradication, food security, peace, youth and gender
empowerment. And additionally, a conducive environment for economic
development, shared prosperity and enhancing the quality of life of the
people of this region is a mandate we should fulfill.
This year, we are celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela, a great
statesman of our region and the world at large. Nelson Mandela had the
ability to inspire. He reminded us, “There is no passion to be found playing
small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of
living.” As a people of this region, we should draw inspiration from these
words, from the wise Madiba. We can no longer play small.
Our vision of a common future driven by a conviction that the people of this
region will no longer settle for a life that is less than the one they are all
capable of living.
Even when we encounter difficulties, we should persevere and remain
committed to the lofty goals of regional integration.
Integration is a sine qua non condition for the economic advancement of our
region. Today, we stand at the crossroads as a region and as a continent. It
is time for us to take a great leap forward by harnessing the opportunities
provided by regional value chains and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
At a time when artificial intelligence and robotics are defining the way we
live and work, we must ensure that we collectively utilize these technologies
as a means to catalyze our development agenda.
I wish to underscore the importance of unity in our pursuit to enhance the
living standards and wellbeing of our people. When we move forward as a
united force and as a coordinated team, we will overcome challenges and
accomplish our goals of ensuring that the citizens of SADC, and of Africa in
general, realize the benefits of socio-economic and political integration.
At this juncture, I wish to express my appreciation for the progress made so
far in ensuring that intra-Africa trade and investment, which has the greatest
potential for building sustainable economic development and integration in
Africa, is at the core of our discussions.
One of the objectives of SADC, as stated in Article 5 of the SADC Treaty, is to
promote self-sustaining development on the basis of collective self-reliance,
and the inter-dependence of Member States. To spur inter-dependence and
intra-Africa trade, some SADC Member States signed the COMESA-EAC-SADC
Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agreement. The main objective of the TFTA
Agreement is to strengthen and deepen economic integration of the southern
and eastern Africa regions, and to harmonise policies and programmes across
the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in the areas of trade, customs
and infrastructure development and movement of goods and people.
It is disheartening to learn that some citizens are encountering difficulties
moving across borders within our region.
South Africans, who should benefit from the five flights a day that take place
between Johannesburg and Windhoek, are hindered by the fact that they are
required to apply for an entry Visa for every single visit. This is a barrier to
business and ultimately, our aspirations of integration. This is why we have
taken a decision that Africans carrying diplomatic passports can come to
Namibia without visa requirements. Eventually we plan to do away with visa
requirements for all passports. Only then, will we walk the talk.
Staying on the topic of integration, I note that SADC countries have signed
the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is a flagship project
of Agenda 2063, where goods and services will move freely among member
states of the African Union (AU), with the objective of boosting intra-African
The Agreement, which will bring together a market of 1.2 billion people with
a combined GDP of over $2.5 trillion, reinforces our commitment to the
multilateral trading system.
During my tenure as Chairperson, I will strive to ensure that SADC remains
focused on the promotion of intra-Africa trade. I plan to work closely with
my peers to ensure that our economic growth and industrialisation agendas
are supported by infrastructure development. The aim is to foster the
consolidation of synergies that will result in the effective implementation of
the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap. We should not falter in
our pursuit of industrialization. As a Regional Economic Community we have
contributed meaningfully to the African Union Institutional Reform process.
And we shall continue to make our voice heard.
The decision for all African Union Member States to implement a 0.2% levy
on eligible imports to finance the African Union is understandable, since
Africa should finance its own institution. Its embarrassing when we ask the
very people we condemn, to fund our own organization. We therefore
support the decision to ensure that African countries should be responsible
for funding the AU. We also welcome the flexibility allowed with regards to
remittance of Member States’ financial contributions, and the linkage of the
0.2% Levy to the assessed contributions. However, in SADC, most of our
countries are net importers of finished products including food. We are
import dependent countries. Furthermore, some of our countries are
classified as upper-middle income, using the World Bank method of dividing
GDP by the population. Namibia and Swaziland among others are classified
as Upper-Middle Income countries, notwithstanding the fact that we still
face many challenges at the socio-economic level.
I am sure that over the course of this summit, we shall interrogate some of
these matters. We therefore thank His Excellency Paul Kagame for the
leadership and exemplary work ethic displayed in spearheading the AU
Institutional Reform Process.
Without peace and stability, economic growth and development will remain
nothing but a dream on the horizon. So far, the SADC Region is currently one
of the most stable and secure regions in Africa.
The political and security situation in the region remains relatively calm and I
would like to take this opportunity to congratulate His Excellency Emerson
Mnagagwa and the people of Zimbabwe, for having organized the
Harmonized General Elections on July 30, 2018.
We are aware that the matter regarding the outcome of those elections is in
the courts, and we are confident that whatever the result of the case, peace
I note with satisfaction progress made in the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of Madagascar, following
interventions and mediation efforts by SADC and international partners. I
would like to thank His Excellency Joseph Kabila Kabange for having carried
out the groundwork for elections to take place in the Democratic Republic of
Congo, as scheduled in December 2018.
Colonialism represents a serious violation of national sovereignty and is in
breach of international law. While colonialism has ended in the large
majority of Africa, there is still one area that is outstanding. It is only fitting
for the people of SADC to reaffirm their unwavering support and solidarity
with the people of Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in their
struggle to achieve their inalienable rights to self-determination.
In this regard, I wish to commend the Republic of South Africa for offering to
host the SADC Solidarity Conference with the Saharawi Arab Democratic
Republic before the end of this year.
When the SADC Treaty came into force in 1992, our leaders made a
commitment on behalf of the people of our region. That commitment was,
“Underdevelopment, exploitation, deprivation and backwardness in Southern
Africa will only be overcome only through economic cooperation and
Namibia’s chairmanship of SADC will reaffirm this core commitment. Under
our chairmanship, we shall leave no stone unturned in working with all of
you in promoting economic cooperation and integration within SADC. For we
believe in a SADC without underdevelopment, a SADC without exploitation, a
SADC without deprivation and a SADC without backwardness.
With that being said, I wish the Summit successful deliberations.
I thank you