KASUBA MULENGA, Pretoria
PRESIDENT Lungu signed the Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol on gender and development at the Heads of State and Government Summit which ended here yesterday.
Zambia’s signing of the protocol was witnessed by ministers of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba, Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo, Development Planning Lucky Mulusa and Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe.
And in a communique read during the closing ceremony, SADC executive secretary Stergomena Tax commended member states that have reached the 50:50 gender parity in political and decision-making positions.
“The summit has urged member states that have not reached the target of 50:50 gender parity in political and decision-making positions in the public service and private sector to strive towards reaching the target at all levels,” Dr Tax said.
She said the summit also noted that HIV and AIDS has remained a major challenge affecting significant numbers of adolescents, especially females, exacerbated by drug abuse.
“The summit has since directed the SADC Secretariat to urgently develop a comprehensive regional strategy to deal with drug abuse and cyber-crime,” Dr Tax said.
She said the summit noted the progress made in the establishment of the SADC University of Transformation and urged ministers responsible for education and training, and science and innovation, to quickly finish preparatory work for making the university operational.
Dr Tax said SADC leaders were also urged to actualise the 2017 theme, ‘Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value chains’, through implementation of projects which focus on agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, energy and pharmaceuticals, among others.
She also urged member states to explore risk insurance options in cases of climate change-related disasters, including facilities which are available at the African Development Bank.
The summit further noted the improvement in the overall 2017/2018 food security situation in the region and urged member states to take measures to improve storage facilities, to minimise post-harvest losses.
Dr Tax also congratulated new office-bearers; incoming SADC chairperson Jacob Zuma of South Africa, incoming deputy chairperson Hage Geingob of Namibia, chairperson of the organ on politics, defence and security Edwardo dos Santos of Angola, and deputy chairperson President Lungu.
And President Zuma said the theme for this year’s summit was carefully developed with the aim of ensuring continuity and focus on the industrialisation strategy to accelerate development in the region.
Mr Zuma said the summit coincided with the silver jubilee of the SADC family which has remained politically stable and peaceful.
“We will continue to be guided by the principles of sovereignty of our member states. As we celebrate the silver jubilee, we have seen the SADC membership grow with the coming of Comoros, the 16th member,” he said.
The summit also witnessed the signing of legal instruments by heads of state and government of the SADC region.
Such instruments were the protocol for protection of new plant varieties in SADC, agreement on amending mutual legal assistance on criminal matters and the amending agreement on extradition.
Next year’s SADC summit of heads of state and government will be held in Namibia, which will assume the chairpersonship.