Windhoek-The Southern African Development Community has postponed the discussion of whether or not to accept Burundi’s application as a member of SADC. Heads of state and government from the 14 SADC member countries, including Namibia’s President Hage Geingob, met for a one-day meeting in Swaziland on Saturday to discuss issues concerning southern Africa.
According to the SADC communiqué issued after the meeting, the southern African leaders “agreed to defer to August a request by Burundi and Comoros to join the SADC family”.
The application by central Africa’s Burundi to join SADC has been seen by some eastern African countries as a complication for the East African Community (EAC), which is in the process of regional integration.
Further, ever since President Pierre Nkurunziza pushed through his third term in office,
Burundi has appeared reluctant on EAC matters, boycotting East African Legislative Assembly meetings over its differences with Rwanda and sitting out of the EAC-led Intra-Burundi Dialogue over the involvement of political rivals. The application to join SADC is seen as a swipe at that.
Nevertheless, Bujumbura and Dar es Salaam are also opposed to an economic partnership agreement between the EAC and the EU that Kenya and Rwanda have signed as Uganda tries to reconcile the positions. Burundi’s application was first assessed by the Inter-State Politics and Diplomacy Committee of SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, which convened in Dar es Salaam on February 24. The SADC Extraordinary Summit on Industrialisation discussed the report of the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration within the framework of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP). The Namibian Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Immanuel Ngatjizeko, represented Namibia in those discussions.
Southern African leaders also agreed to continue monitoring the political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The leaders commended DRC for efforts being made to restore stability to the country,” and “adopted an action plan on industrialisation that will run from 2015 to 2063”.
President Geingob also had bilateral engagements with the Kingdom of Swaziland’s King Mswati III, who is the chairperson of SADC. He also met with other heads of state and government on the sidelines of the event.
Geingob was accompanied by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development Immanuel Ngatjizeko and other senior government officials.