Thursday, August 16, 2007
By Bivan Saluseki
Thursday August 16, 2007 [04:01]
THERE is no hurdle that is too difficult to surmount, President Mwanawasa has declared. In his welcome message to the heads of state and government who arrived in the country yesterday for the SADC summit which opens today, President Mwanawasa said with the active co-operation of all other member states, hurdles could be tackled. President Mwanawasa said Zambia's challenge to drive the SADC's common agenda was enormous.
"It is with a deep sense of humility and responsibility that Zambia takes up the challenge of the SADC chairmanship for the first time since 1980 when our leaders met in Lusaka to form the Southern African Development Co-ordinating Conference," he said.
"This is, therefore, a moment of pride to all Zambians and more so to those who have followed Zambia's contribution to the liberation of the Southern African region whose participation in the emancipation of Southern Africa dates back to the days of the Frontline States grouping."
President Mwanawasa said the holding of the summit in Lusaka was of great significance to Zambians because the venue where the summit was being held was the birthplace of the Southern African Development Co-ordinating Conference (SADCC), the forerunner to the Community.
"This occasion provides Zambian business people an opportunity to show the region what Zambia is capable of contributing to the development of our region and our resolve to be part of the integration of this region. This, of course, can only be possible with the commitment of both leaders and our people to the SADC vision of 'A Common Future'," he said.
President Mwanawasa said SADC countries, to a great extent, shared a common history.
"This is a history of struggle to free one's brothers and sisters; a history of fighting for self-determination; a history of sacrifice for one another and indeed a history of singleness of purpose," said President Mwanawasa.
“If we are united, SADC nations can turn our weaknesses into opportunities.
“Let us fulfil the collective undertaking we made at the 26th Maseru summit to boost the implementation of the integration agenda, guided by our Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP)."
President Mwanawasa said the RISDP continued to be SADC's beacon for deeper regional economic integration.
"In our quest to consolidate this unity through infrastructure development, we must exploit all opportunities and seek new ones. The road networks, air transport facilities and the telecommunication networks should all be developed further to enhance development," he said.
President Mwanawasa said SADC should also collectively ensure that people had enough food, adequate shelter and were healthy.
"In particular, the region must vigorously fight HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis," said President Mwanawasa.