FOREIGN Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe will advance the African cause and help find solutions to problems affecting the continent during its tenure as African Union chair. Officially opening the sadc Council of Ministers meeting in Harare yesterday, Minister Mumbengegwi said Harare remained committed to the furtherance of both regional and continental unity.
The Council of Ministers meeting sought to prepare an Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap as directed by the sadc Heads of State Summit held in Victoria Falls last year.
The roadmap would be presented to the sadc Extra Ordinary Summit to be held in Harare next month.
In his address, Minister Mumbengegwi thanked sadc for supporting Zimbabwe’s African Union chairmanship bid in light of relentless and needless vilification of the country by the West.
“During our tenure, we will always put at the forefront, our guiding principle requiring us to provide African solutions to African problems, he said.
“We also remain committed to working with the region to further regional and continental unity and to advance our common cause on the broader international arena.
“Let me express my deep appreciation and gratitude, on behalf of His Excellency President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and the Government and people of Zimbabwe, to their Excellencies, Heads of State and Government of the sadc region and the people of sadc, for the honour and trust you bestowed on the Government and people of Zimbabwe and on President Mugabe by supporting Zimbabwe’s bid for the position of chairmanship of the African Union.
“We owe this honour to the invaluable support of our regional organisation, sadc, which has remained solidly in support of Zimbabwe even in the face of sustained efforts by some Western countries to discredit the country’s leadership and destroy her economy in an effort to achieve an illegal regime change in our country.”
Minister Mumbengegwi said he was happy with the peace prevailing in the region.
He hailed regional countries that recently conducted elections in line with sadc guidelines.
“Though there are still a few pockets of insecurity in sadc, I am very much encouraged by the level of political maturity that the region continues to exhibit,” he said.
“We pay tribute to the people of Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Lesotho for the smooth and peaceful elections held in those countries towards the end of last year and at the beginning of this year.”
He said the peaceful nature of the polls confirmed the existence of democratic principles in the region.
sadc Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax highlighted several developmental projects being undertaken under the auspices of the regional bloc.
“Within the framework of the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, the Project Preparation Development Fund has been operationalised during the year, with one project being approved for grant financing, namely the Mozambique-Zimbabwe-South Africa Transmission Inter-connector, and seven more projects admitted in the pipeline and are being appraised,” she said.
“In addition, water supply and sanitation projects have been prepared, and the Zambezi Basin Commission was launched, hosted by the Government of Zimbabwe.
“In the area of ICT, commendable progress has been made with the roll out of Digital Terrestrial Migration equipment given the looming ITU switch-over deadline of June 17, 2015.”
She said food security in the region was expected to remain less during the 2015-16 marketing year due to poor rains in most parts of the region.