Closing address by President Nelson Mandela at the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Blantyre - Malawi

8 September 1997

Your Majesty, King Mswati III and Queen LaMagwaza
Your Excellency, President Bakili Muluzi, our Host
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government and your spouses
Your Excellencies, Heads of Continental and International Organisations
Honourable Ministers
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. We have come from what I believe could be aptly described as a fruitful and productive Summit. It has been my privilege to Chair the 17th SADC Summit which will be marked by the important decision that have been taken on the direction of SADC.

2. During this Summit, we took stock of the performance of our region over the past year.

(i) The Summit noted with satisfaction the relative peace and stability that has prevailed over the region over the past twelve months. This has provided the environment for attracting foreign investment to the region.

(ii) All 12 SADC member States registered positive growth rates ranging from two (2) percent to over ten (10) percent. In fact, seven out of 12 of our member States recorded growth rates of 5 percent or higher. This is indeed a welcome development for the region.

(iii) Similarly, in keeping with our commitment to community building we reviewed progress in our cooperation in such areas as energy, transport and communication, culture and information, food security, agriculture, fisheries, and human resource development.

(iv) The Summit also noted progress achieved regarding the Trade Protocol, particularly in relation to the modalities for tariff reduction and the issue of non-tariff barriers.

3 (i) Two landmark declarations signalling SADC's commitment to bettering the life of, and creating a safer life for some of the most exposed, and vulnerable sectors of our society, were signed. The declaration on gender equality spells out concrete actions to be taken to address disparities between women and men in our region which have hitherto impeded the full participation of the former in power sharing and decision making.

(ii) Conscious of the scourge of anti-personnel landmines we adopted a declaration which aims at making Southern Africa a region free of anti-personnel landmines.

4. The Summit also signed two important Protocols.

(i) Protocol on Education and Training. Our abundant human resources are key to our future and sustainable development.

(ii) Protocol on Mining which is a clear demonstration of the great importance that, as a region, we attach to the Mining Sector. The mining industry is a major foreign exchange earner for a number of our countries and employs a significant number of people in the formal sector. The integration of the region's mining activities could lead to enhance SADC's share in the international mineral market.

Your Majesty, Excellencies Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

5. We live in a world driven by science and technology. To enhance our development capacity, we need increased investment in research and development (R&D) within the SADC region. This will assist us to achieve high productivity levels and make us competitive in the international market place. It is regrettable to note that the developing world, including the SADC region, spends less than 2 percent of their budgets on research and development compared with more than 10 percent for the developed world.

6. More resources need to be mobilised from government and the private sector to fund research and development.

7. As a region, being part of the developing world, we obviously are not without serious problems and grave challenges. In tackling these we do, however, have the great benefit of the guidance provided by the SADC Treaty. We can realistically state that we are making great progress in consolidated this regional organisation as an important player on the continent and a source for the betterment of the lives of our people.

8. I have great faith in the ingenuity, resourcefulness and commitment of the people of this region, to its development through our chosen path of regional cooperation and economic integration. The test of our success will ultimately be how much we provide for the basic human needs of our people through the creation of more jobs, social security, housing and access to adequate medical care, eradication of illiteracy, water provision and a safe and sustainable environment.

It remains for me on behalf of my fellow Heads of State and Government, and their delegations to express once more my heartfelt appreciation to my President and Brother Bakili Muluzi and his Government for the marvellous and warm hospitality accorded us.

I thank you!

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website