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Editors Note Detail

Volume 52 Issue 08 - August 2014

September 08, 2014

Real integration long overdue

Recently, the South African Development Community (SADC) leaders met in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe where they expressed concern at the pace at which the region was moving towards integration. SADC, which is a metamorphosis of the then Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), has long been preaching regional economic integration.

However, this has proved to be an uphill battle mainly because of political instability that prevailed in some of its member states. For a long time, this has been a stumbling block to this noble idea of a region pooling its resources together to uplift standard of living of its people.

Economic regional integration has been a song that we sang with utmost passion but which practically has been very illusive because of a people at war with themselves.

The internecine wars and political instabilities in Zimbabwe, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar for example have all worked towards derailing the region from its drive towards real economic integration.

Time and again when leaders met to map the way forward their efforts were thwarted by the imperative to resolve these conflicts with Zimbabwe dominating the agenda.

Thus, instead of discussing the economy and development, politics took centre stage. I remember some time in 2011 a SADC Summit convened in Johannesburg, South Africa to discuss a COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area.

The summit ended with emotions high as leaders expended time discussing Zimbabwe and Madagascar. Less was covered regarding the tripartite agreement and focus shifted to resolve resolving the political instability in those countries.

This is despite the fact that regional blocs are a stepping stone towards the envisaged United Sates of Africa. Africa has lagged behind because of fragmentation and as they say united we stand and divided we fall. First we must start with regional integration before we can think of a United States of Africa.

Consequently, it was soothing to hear SADC leaders when they met in Victoria Falls admitting and expressing their exasperation at the pace at which SADC was moving towards regional economic integration.

To prove such there will be a special summit before the next ordinary summit in August next year aimed at pushing real integration of the region’s economies.

Also, ministers of trade, finance and transport have been tasked to meet and come up with firm proposals to push for real integration.

This is commendable and one can only hope that this time it is for real. The region has suffered long enough despite having enough natural resources to become an economic giant. One speaker said if the Asians are tigers, we must be cheetahs because they are the fastest animal in the world. Ends

EDITOR

Thomas Nkhoma

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