Closing address by President Nelson Mandela of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Grand Baie - Mauritius

14 September 1998

Your Majesty,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

We have engaged in fruitful and frank discussions on the way forward for
our region. We have deliberated on urgent issues arising from the economic, social and political situation in this region.

As we did so, we were all of us mindful of the call to arms sounded by our former Chairman, Sir Ketumile Masire, at the start of this Summit.

When we celebrate the progress we are making, we also constantly ask ourselves if we are acting with sufficient purpose, effectiveness and foresight, to create the conditions for the fulfilment of our historical mission: to eradicate the poverty that blights the lives of millions in Southern Africa!

Having identified a number of political flash points in the region, we remain united and focused on the need to solve these problems. We do so with confidence because the countries of our region have leaders who do have the capacity and the political will to find solutions.

The culture of democracy that has taken root in our region is on a forward march and there is no going back. As SADC, we pledge our unwavering support and assistance to those countries still grappling with democratic and constitutional reforms, with restoring peace or the conditions for democratic elections.

We therefore wish to convey in the strongest terms our condemnation of UNITA's flagrant non-compliance with the major provisions of the Lusaka
Protocol. We will ensure that the decisions Member States have taken
through SADC, the OAU and the UN are complied with and we urge the
international community to intensify pressure on UNITA to implement the
required demilitarisation so that the people of Angola can rebuild their

SADC stands ready to continue its efforts to facilitate a resolution of the problems that have arisen in Lesotho concerning the results of the elections. Our confidence that the leaders of Lesotho will find a satisfactory solution is strengthened by their response to the mediation initiative taken by the SADC foursome consisting of Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

We are also committed to give all necessary support to the efforts to restore peace, security and stability to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the basis of the Victoria Falls and Pretoria initiatives, as the start of a peaceful transition to democracy.

Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen;

As we pursue our vision of development through regional integration, and
the path of sustained growth which will enable us to eradicate poverty, diseases and unemployment, we must act expeditiously, lest the world leaves us behind.

It is in that spirit that this Summit has brought a focus on measures needed to achieve our goal of being a key presence in the global economy.

Amongst the critical conditions for doing so is that we should embrace and adapt for our own use the latest in technological and scientific knowledge.

Because information technology is one of the principal forces making our world an integrated and interdependent one, we are determined to ensure
that our region is able to exploit this technology in such a way that we can draw advantage from the process of globalisation.

That is why the next SADC Consultative Conference shall deal with the
challenges and opportunities of information technology. This will help ensure that all SADC stakeholders understand and appreciate the opportunities and challenges in this area.

It will mean that our endeavours to bring clean water to the remotest village will be paralleled by efforts to connect as many people as possible to the Internet; and to see that foreign investors are assured of the availability of the latest communication technologies.

Substantial investment in technology will bring us benefits only if we also invest in our most precious asset, our people.

That includes developing a work ethic and a sense of social responsibility.

It means equipping our people with the skills and knowledge that will make them amongst the most productive workers in the world.

It means making Southern Africa a front runner in the customer service revolution that is spreading across the world.

These things will ensure that the investors we attract will stay with us.

Let us therefore, be rigorous in following up what we started at the 1997 Consultative Conference in Windhoek. Where we have not yet done so, we must work towards setting up national productivity movements and in turn building the regional productivity movement.

Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen;

Our efforts to promote development, democracy, peace, security and stability require strong commitments and wise decisions.

They will also require of us efficiency and discipline in implementation. That is what spurs us to seek improvements in SADC as an effective, well co- ordinated instrument that our peoples will continue to associate with the betterment of their lives.

SADC made an invaluable contribution to the liberation of the people of our region. It is rapidly making a reality of our vision of an instrument of development through co-operation, creating the framework for a common home for all Southern Africans.

This Summit has left us confident that SADC will rise to the even greater challenges that now face us.

Allow me to conclude by once again thanking my brother, Right Honourable
Prime Minister, Dr. Ramgoolam, the government and the people of Mauritius for their wonderful hospitality.

I thank you.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website