Mr Banda said when he opened the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security summit in Livingstone yesterday that members of the regional body should continue at the bloc level to respect human rights and the rule of law.
Earlier, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tswangirai and Mozambican President Armando Guebuza arrived on Thursday morning at Livingstone International Airport. They were received by Southern Province permanent secretary Gladys Kristafor.
And Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti said it will be a tragedy if the SADC Troika Summit does not come up with a lasting solution to the Zimbabwean case.
Mr Biti said this when he addressed the press at Zambezi Sun Hotel yesterday. He said SADC has more wisdom and experience in handling the situation in his country.
“SADC cannot afford to fail to resolve the issues in Zimbabwe and others being faced in the region. For SADC to succeed, it needs to tackle the fundamental issues that this country faces such as the road map to democracy, good governance and issues to do with the transfer of power,” he said.
President Banda is the current chairperson of the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security.
“If there is anything we must learn from the upheavals going on in the northern part of our continent, it is that the legitimate expectations of the citizens of our countries cannot be taken for granted. We must therefore continue at the SADC level to consolidate democracy through the establishment of institutions which uphold the tenets of good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law,” he said. President Banda said member states should also uphold the various international laws and conventions under the African Union and the United Nations, to which the regional body is a party.
He said the SADC organ, under whose auspices members met on March 31, is the sub-regional custodian of all democratic principles and has endeavoured to establish various mechanisms of democratic governance.
Mr Banda called on the SADC troika to bring to life mechanisms such as the SADC electoral advisory council, the SADC mediation reference group and the panel of elders, whose establishment was approved at the Windhoek summit in August 2010.
He said SADC has come of age and should be able to help bring about home-grown solutions where governance or electoral disputes arise.
President Banda said SADC member states are happy that the region has continued to enjoy relative peace and stability.
He said the bloc should be mindful that there are political tensions in the region, which SADC should address during the meeting.
President Banda said member states are happy that the region has continued to witness the consolidation of democracy through the operationalisation of various democratic institutions.
The consolidation of democracy has been through the operationalisation of democratic institutions like the SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) and the frequent holding of free and fair general elections.
Participants in the Troika included South African President Jacob Zuma, who is also Deputy Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, who is a member of the SADC Troika, SADC executive secretary TomazSalomao and foreign affairs ministers from the respective countries.
“For some of the cases which need to be resolved, we will call upon the various facilitators to present reports on the mediation efforts. We are also happy to note that our region has continued to witness the consolidation of democracy,” he said.
Mr Banda expressed confidence that senior officials and ministers have laid a foundation on which the leaders will base the discussions to reach fruitful and conclusive decisions for the benefit of the region.