By Andreas Thomas
Windhoek – Namibian President Hage Geingob said he is ready to assume the responsibilities that come with being the chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The Namibian leader is expected to assume the role of regional chair at the 38th SADC Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled for 17-18 August in Windhoek.
Geingob will take over the rotational role from his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa until the next summit in August 2019. Though it is challenging to be the chair of SADC, he described the role as a noble responsibility and that his success will be dependent on cooperation and support from his peers in the region.
“We have a lot of responsibilities, including the outstanding elections in the Democratic Republic Congo which were initially scheduled for 2016 to determine a successor to incumbent President Joseph Kabila, but were postponed to December 2018,” Geingob told media in the capital.
The resignation of Kabila is a welcoming relief for the 77-year-old Namibian leader. The Congolese leader has been reluctant to step down, that resulted in dozens of people dying since protests erupted in 2016 over delays of the elections.
However, as the chairman of SADC, President Geingob will be challenged to ensure that the electoral process is conducted in a peaceful manner in the vast central African country.
Dozens of people have been killed in the DRC since protests broke out in 2016 amid election delays now two years behind schedule. The on-going conflicts in the Kasai region in Eastern DRC another worrying area matter for SADC.
Namibia is assuming the role of SADC at the time the region is pushing for the acceleration of regional integration and industrialisation.“We have a problem of moving freely but we have now realised that goods and people must have free movement in the region, they must also follow their money, so for this, we have to provide a conducive environment first for investors and also free movement of people,” he said.
He added that regional integration will be meaningless without industrialisation, which is essential to inter-African trade.
Namibia’s deputy prime minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah is also the new chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers.
Nandi-Ndaitwah took over from her South African counterpart Lindilwe Sisulu on Monday.
This year’s regional summit is being held under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the theme is focussed to the SADC’s industrialisation effort as articulated in the SADC Regional Integrated Strategic Development Plan (RISDP).
She emphasised that: “It is a hard reality that we cannot industrialise the region or Africa unless we invest on infrastructure development. In order to ensure sustainable Industrialisation and development, we need our own knowledge. To that end, we must invest on our youth through education, skill training and motivate them to be innovative and entrepreneurs. In creating our own pool of knowledge, we will also ensure our region‘s effective participation in the global industrial value chain”.
“It is a hard reality that we cannot industrialize the region or Africa unless we invest on infrastructure development. In order to ensure sustainable industrialization and development, we need our own knowledge. To that end, we must invest on our youth through education, skill training and motivate them to be innovative and entrepreneurs. In creating our own pool of knowledge, we will also ensure our region ‘s effective participation in the global industrial value chain”.
Namibia has also assumed the SADC leadership role after Selma Ashipala-Musavyi the Permanent Secretary of International Relations and Cooperation took over the chairship of the SADC Standing Committee of Senior Officials from Kgabo Mahoai, the Director General for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation for South Africa.