Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to poverty eradication in the region at their summit on poverty and development here.
The SADC Chairman, President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia, however, says despite the many challenges such as HIV and AIDS, TB, malaria and other communicable diseases and frequent occurrence of national disasters that continue to affect the region, the leaders are committed to combating and eradicating poverty in all its manifestation and dimensions as a matter of urgency.
It was important to focus on the regional dimensions and causes of poverty in order to effectively eradicate the scourge in the region, he said in a statement read on his behalf by the SADC Executive Secretary, Tomaz Augusto Salomao, at the recent SADC International Summit Conference on Poverty and Development.
President Mwanawasa called for full and effective implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organs (SIPO) as the SADC long-term strategy for deepening regional integration, contributing to accelerated economic growth, eradication of poverty and achievement of sustainable pattern of economic growth.
He noted that in addition to diseases, under-employment, deficient economic structures, inadequate capital and skills and marginalisation from the world economy, there were new developments that were further frustrating the efforts to combat poverty in the region, including surging food, crop and energy prices and climate upheavals.
President Mwanawasa said in order to combat poverty, the SADC leaders had declared priority areas that required urgent attention such as food security, addressing the adverse impact of climate change in the fight against poverty and increasing capacity in power generation and transmission as well as securing greater use of renewable and alternative sources of energy.
Other declarations included achieving higher economic growth through accelerated regional integration, trade liberalisation and economic development, developing and sustaining human capabilities through increased access to quality and appropriate education, training, welfare and social development.
President Mwanawasa said the SADC leaders further declared their commitment to accelerate development, rehabilitation and maintenance of infrastructure for regional integration.
Meanwhile, the SADC Heads of State have maintained that South African President Thabo Mbeki will continue mediating in the Zimbabwe post-election disputes.
The leaders resolved this after President Mbeki presented his report on the situation in Zimbabwe.
Zambian Foreign Affairs Minister Kabinga Pande disclosed that the SADC was concerned with the situation in Zimbabwe, and was sending 40 observers who were already in the country to monitor the situation on the ground. - BuaNews-NNN