By Zvamaida Murwira
The Southern African Development Community should explore ways to fund its programmes because having development partners bankroll a fraction of its activities is not sustainable, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgar Mbwembwe has said. Deputy Minister Mbwembwe said while there had been a significant improvement in the percentage in which member States were funding activities, more needed to be done.
He made the remarks yesterday in Harare while addressing diplomats, academics and researchers at a consultative workshop convened by Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (sardc) on behalf of Government in preparation of a sadc Strategic Ministerial Retreat to be held later this month.
Deputy Minister Mbwembwe said major challenges stifling regional integration were the non-implementation or slow pace of implementation of summit decisions and agreements.
“Further, sadc’s agenda has, over the years, become so broad and diverse against a background of dwindling resources to fund its programmes,” he said.
“Today, 41,4 percent of sadc is funded by international cooperating partners, while 58,6 percent is funded by member States. This by the way, is a significant improvement compared to the 60 percent donor funding and 40 percent member State funding, which characterised our organisation for many years.
“We have to ask ourselves ‘Is this the sadc we want’. Surely, a sadc whose future or programmes depends on the generosity of others is not sustainable and was never part of the vision of our forefathers who valued the principles of hard work and self reliance.”
Deputy Minister Mbwembwe said there was need to introspect if sadc was living up to the promissory note that its founding fathers gave to its citizens in the founding vision and principles of 1992.
“What are the challenges that confront our organisation today and how can we as the citizens of sadc position our organisation to better deliver on its mandate,” he said. “These are pertinent questions we should find answers to if sadc is to maintain its relevance to the citizens of the region.”
Speaking at the same occasion, Director for Regional Cooperation and Continental Integration in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador James Manzou said there was need to facilitate trade among sadc countries and remove barriers created by borders.