By Andreas Thomas
Windhoek – The 38th Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has started in Windhoek on Thursday, with Heads of State and Government, ministers and senior public officials from 16 member states expected to attend the 10 day event.
This year’s gathering is held under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”. The event started off with the meeting of SADC Standing Committee of Senior Officials at which Namibia took over the rotational chair of the regional committee.
The Standing Committee is the technical advisory that reviews and clears documents for the SADC Council of Ministers, which oversees the functioning of the SADC institution and ensures that policies and decisions are implemented.
Ambassador Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation took over Kgabo Mahoai, the Director General for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation for South Africa.
In her acceptance statement, Ashipala-Musavyi says Namibia feels honored and privileged to be assuming the Chairmanship of the Standing Committee of the Senior Officials.
“Namibia feels honored and privileged to be assuming the Chairmanship of our Organization, who’s objectives are to achieve development and economic growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the people of Southern Africa and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration. These are socio – economic challenges that we are all grappling with and aspirations for which we collectively continue to strive,” she said.
The regional summit is returning to Windhoek, where SADC was conceived 26 years ago.
Namibia hosted the similar summit in August 1992, during which leaders signed the SADC Treaty that that transformed the former Coordinating Conference into a Development Community that has been in existence since to Southern African Development Community.
Established through the Article 2 of the SADC Treaty, SADC was meant to achieve economic development, peace and security, and growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa, and promote regional integration.
“It is here where the Southern African Development Community was birthed and here we have returned, to gauge not only it’s growth and progression, but more importantly, how SADC has continued to meaningfully touch the lives of our people,” Ashipala-Musavyi.
The Heads of State and Government will meet on 17-18 August, during which Namibia President Hage Geingob will take over the chairmanship of SADC from his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu will also be confirmed as the new chairman of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation, taking over from President João Lourenço of Angola.
Another point of interest is President Azali Assoumi of the Union of Comoros, who will attend the SADC Summit after the Island nation, was admitted to the regional body as its 16th member last year.