Swaziland’s King Mswati III may have handed over the SADC chairmanship to South African President Jacob Zuma, but he has one important task to do. The Swazi monarch has been tasked, together with President Zuma, to put together a special envoy to be sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in light of the current political and security situation as violence has escalated in that country.
This was announced at the closing ceremony of the 37th SADC Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and government in Pretoria last weekend.
There is uncertainty over elections after President Joseph Kabila ended his second term with no clear indication if he is ready to hand over power.
The summit noted that the security challenges have made it unrealistic for the DRC to hold elections by December 2017 as originally planned.
The DRC’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) was urged to publicise the revised electoral calendar in consultation with the government and the national council for monitoring the implementation of the agreement (CSNA) of 31 December 2016.
A communique issued at the end of the summit called upon the international community and all stakeholders to continue supporting the implementation of the 31December 2016 Agreement and respecting the wishes of the Congolese people with a view to ensuring the sustainable peace, security and stability of the DRC.
The summit also called upon all stakeholders in the DRC to refrain from actions that would undermine the political and security stability with regards to developments which led to the escalation of violence and insecurity in the Kasai provinces.
Despite these developments, the summit commended President Joseph Kabila, the government and other stakeholders for the progress made in implementing provisions of the December 31 2016 peace agreement.
King Mswati and Zuma were expected to consult then meet and decide on the special envoy who is to be at the level of a former head of state.
The SADC leaders praised Lesotho for committing to implementing the recommendations of SADC aimed at bringing about lasting peace in the kingdom.
Mswati was praised for what they described as a “hands on” approach to the regional body’s agenda.
This approach, they said, helped SADC make significant strides over the past 12 months.
President Zuma told the summit on Sunday that the king’s approach “made our work easier”.
The Namibian President Haige Geingob commended the king for steering SADC with dexterity and sustained focus.
“We are grateful for His Majesty’s hands-on approach, particularly to the matters of economic development as guided by the 36th Summit theme, Resource Mobilisation for Sustainable Energy Infrastructure for an Inclusive Industrialisation and for the Prosperity of the Region,” he said.
The SADC Executive Secretary Dr Lawrence Tax, who was sworn in for a second term of office, commended King Mswati on behalf of the summit “for his exemplary leadership during his tenure and for convening a successful investment forum on energy and water projects”.
Meanwhile, SADC leaders have endorsed the establishment of the SADC University.
The leaders resolved to urge ministers responsible for education and training, science, technology and innovation to expedite the finalisation of the preparatory work for the operationalisation of the university.
The university is the brainchild of King Mswati which was launched at the 36th SADC summit held in Swaziland last year.
In his address at the official opening of the 37th Summit on Saturday, Mswati said the university had a noble objective to promote specific skills among SADC’s population.
“It will provide the much needed skills development and consequently employment to our people, thereby causing us to harvest the demographic dividend and at the same time, reduce poverty,” he said.
He noted that technical vocational education and training remained critical if “we are to produce entrepreneurs not job seekers”.