SADC Readies for Major Conference

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Preparations are at an advanced stage for the SADC Consultative Conference, scheduled for April 26 and 27. The conference will provide a platform for SADC and its international cooperating partners (ICP) to engage in policy dialogue aimed at mobilising consensus and reviewing cooperating arrangements in the implementation of the region’s strategies. The conference will also provide an opportunity for ICPs to consult and exchange ideas on the strategies and other common approaches that would help to enhance effectiveness of development assistance to SADC in the implementation of its strategies. Since the emphasis of the consultative conference is the implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ on Politics (SIPO), it is expected that the conference will come up with a new partnership with objectives which will be adopted as a declaration. Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Trade and Industry Andrew Ndishishi said yesterday many delegates to the conference have confirmed their participation. Government ministers in SADC member states, diplomats accredited to Namibia but who are based elsewhere, those accredited to the SADC Secretariat, representatives of civil society and the business community will attend the conference, which was last held in 2002. According to Ndishishi, the preparations for the conference, which will draw 500 people is on good course, and all logistics such as accommodation, transport, and conference facilities are in place. The conference will meet under the theme: “Partnership for the Implementation of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Plan and Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.” Apart from the strategic indicative plans, other sub-themes that the conference will tackle are trade, economic liberalisation and development, infrastructure support for regional integration, sustainable food security, social and human development and HIV and AIDS. SADC went through restructuring which has seen the development of RISDP aimed at providing strategic direction with respect to SADC programmes, activities and aligning the group’s strategic objectives and priorities with policies and strategies for achieving its long term goals. The RISDP was approved by the SADC Council of Ministers’ in Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania in 2003 and launched a year later in 2004. The other indicative strategic plan, SIPO, is aimed at enabling the attainment of the objectives outlined in the RISDP by promoting the creation of a peaceful and stable political and security environment in the region. “Both RISDP and SIPO area structures are aligned to respond to wider goals supporting SADC member states to achieve the Millennium Development Goals’ effective implementation of poverty reduction strategies,” SADC Executive Secretary, TomÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚Âz SalomÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚£o said when he announced the conference in February. He added that the two strategic plans also integrate the goals, objectives and implementation framework of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). In the run-up to the conference, several activities such a public lecture on SADC, a TV debate on the achievements of the regional grouping and other events have been planned. Dr Simba Makoni, the second Executive Secretary of SADC will on Monday, April 24, present a public lecture on the evolution of SADC at the University of Namibia.