When the heads of state and government of Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa meet in Windhoek on Thursday, giving their blessings to the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) head office building will not be the only item on the agenda.
The heads of state and government would also, according to the SACU Secretariat’s executive secretary, Paulina Elago, have an “informal discussion to consider issues related to implementation of the SACU work programme”. Issues would include the promotion of economic growth in the member state countries through regional industrial development policies, revenue sharing arrangements and trade facilitation.
Elago, at a press briefing yesterday, said that those expected at the inauguration of the new building, and the subsequent informal discussions, were South African President Jacob Zuma, Botswana President Lt General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, Lesotho Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa, and, naturally, President Hage Geingob.
A meeting of council of ministers would precede the heads of state and government informal discussion, where they would also “ascertain that all the preparations [for the inauguration and meeting] are in place”.
Nevertheless, the council of ministers meeting, which consists of the 10 finance and trade ministers from each SACU member states, is likely also to mull over the volatility of transfers, which remains a concern to Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.
It is the first time since the inception of the SACU Secretariat in 2004 that the institution has its own premises. It was first housed in a building availed by the Namibian government, and the government eventually donated land where the new headquarters is located, on the corner of Lazarett and Feld streets in Windhoek.
“Since the hosting of the SACU Secretariat in Windhoek the secretariat has received massive assistance, guidance and operational support from the Namibian government and we are humbled to be located in this calm and fast growing city,” said Elago.
“It is our pleasure to have received the piece of land as a donation from the Namibian government and be able to construct our own building to host our employees and serve our member states.”