New Delhi, 02 November 2019
Our Special Guest Today, Honourable Fortune Chasi,
Minister of Energy and Power Development in the Republic of Zimbabwe,
Your Excellency, Alem Tsehaye Woldemariam,
Dean of the African Group of
Heads of Mission in New Delhi,
Our Chief Guest, Rajesh Swami, ji
Director in the East & Southern Africa Division,
Ministry of External Affairs, India,
Colleagues Ambassadors/ High Commissioners,
Ladies & Gentlemen.
A Very Good Evening! Jambo! Bondir! Namaskkar!
First and foremost, I would like to thank each one of you for sharing this great moment with us this evening. I know it's not been an easy ride to get to this village especially, on a weekend.
In a special way, I wish to express our gratitude to our Guests for accepting our invitation and for sharing their precious weekend time with us.
My colleagues and I owe you a huge debt of gratitude for taking interest in our event. Thank you very much.
Let me also thank my colleagues in the Protocol and Welfare Committee and our hardworking officers for the excellent preparations of the event at the shortest time ever.
At the beginning there was some sort of pessimism, but you persisted in your own courageous way. I cannot thank you enough.
I would like also to thank all those "behind the scene" who facilitated the logistics of our event. Thank you very much.
The SADC Day is supposed to be celebrated on 17th of August each year, marking the establishment of SADC through a treaty as a sub-regional economic bloc on 17th August 1992. The same had been transformed from the original Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) which was officially formed on 1st April 1980.
Unfortunately, the date 17th August has been coinciding with the annual session of the Summit held each year. And therefore each year, it is celebrated on a different date and month because of the conflicting of schedule.
But because of its importance, it is commemorated and essentially it is used to reflect on the progress made in the implementation of the wider SADC integration agenda as well as the region’s future prosperity.
This year therefore, we are celebrating the 27th anniversary of our strong, solid and very effective regional grouping with the milestones that I cannot attempt to enumerate this evening.
It suffices to mention that from its inception SADC has grown from strength to strength both in terms of its original objectives and common agenda.
The main objectives, if I may remind you, have remained to achieve economic development, peace and security, and growth, poverty alleviation, enhance the standard and quality of life of the people of Southern Africa, and support the socially disadvantaged through Regional Integration.
As you will appreciate, each year when the baton of Chairmanship is exchanged, we have an accompanying theme to accelerate the implementation of our common agenda.
Whereas the last year's theme was “Promoting Infrastructure and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development," which was effectively implemented under the sterling leadership of Namibia, this year's theme has been carefully crafted as: "A Conducive Environment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, Increased Intra-regional Trade and Job Creation."
The theme of this year is almost a continuation of the last year's unfinished business and places all of certain responsibilities in our interaction with our host, India.
We should and must work together to drive the industrialization agenda both in our bilateral interaction with India as well as within this grouping. And that is why at our last meeting I introduced the idea of holding at an opportune moment a Joint Business Forum between our host and our Group to be coined as “The Indo - SADC Business Forum”.
For your information, during this year's industrialization week which was successfully held in Dar es Salaam from 5th to 9th August the SADC Business Council was officially launched. So, with this Council in place, we will be able to pursue the idea I have intimated to you without fail. It only requires us some sort of dedication and determination.
It would a remiss on my part if I ended my remarks without expressing my earnest appreciation to you for what you did on 25th October as part of the implementation of the decision by the SADC Heads of State at the 39th Summit in Dar es Salaam to proclaim the 25th October as a day dedicated for raising our voice against the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe for unnecessarily long time to the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe and also to the entire SADC region.
The joint statement that you carefully crafted on that day was subsequently well received by our Host, the Government of India through the Ministry of External Affairs and we are still waiting for some feedback from that end.
I am delighted to inform you that we have since then seen quite positive feedback through other Tanzania Missions around the world and are happy that the voices have been heard.
It is worth mentioning here that the AALCO Annual Meeting which I attended in Dar es Salaam had a session dedicated on the illegality of sanctions and the Tanzanian Foreign Minister spoke loudly against sanctions on Zimbabwe.
The Public Debate against these sanctions was held on 25th October 2019 at the University of Dar es Salaam and attracted over 200 academics, politicians, diplomats, senior government officials, civil society and many others. The joint call against these sanctions has been spread all over the world and some positive indications have been pouring in.
The Nordic-Africa Ministerial Meeting on 7-8 November 2019 in Dar es Salaam provides yet another platform where we are going to raise the voices even further.
At this juncture, I should however urge Colleagues not to be complacent in any way whatsoever. We should and must continue to muster our solidarity with Zimbabwe and should utilize every platform available to express our strong opposition to these sanctions until they are finally and completely lifted.
With these brief remarks, I should end by thanking, once again, our Special Guest, our Chief Guest and invited guests for honouring us with your presence despite the challenges of the weather in Delhi this time around. We do hope that you will feel much at home and hope to see you again in future.
And finally, it remains for me to raise a toast:
-To the strong ties between India and SADC countries;
- To progress and prosperity of India and SADC countries; and
- To the everlasting friendship between India and SADC countries
Cheers and Thank you for your kind attention.