THERE can never be meaningful development in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in the absence of peace and stability, President Edgar Lungu has said.
President Lungu has reaffirmed Zambia’s commitment to the ideals of SADC for the common future stating that the region was striving to enjoy peace while at the same time taking definitive steps towards regional integration and development.
He said this yesterday in his maiden speech to SADC in Botswana after being elected in January this year that his Government would remain committed to the implementation and realisation of all SADC protocols and programmes.
The Head of State said Zambia was for all SADC peace initiatives under the organ of politics, defence and security cooperation including those taken jointly with the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region in an effort to bring about lasting peace within the region and beyond.
President Lungu said the presidential election Zambia held following the death of president Michael Sata were peaceful, free and fair and in true reflection of the commitment to peace, security and the respect for democracy and good governance.
“My country firmly believes that there can be no meaningful development in the absence of peace and stability in the region. In this regard, we welcome all peace initiatives under the organ on politics, defence and security cooperation and those taken jointly with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in our efforts to bring about peace within SADC and beyond,” President Lungu said.
The President said countries in the region if taken individually could not provide attractive markets and destination for investment and that it was therefore for such reasons that Zambia was supporting initiatives aimed at broadening markets under the tripartite and continental free trade areas in the region. He said SADC member countries should accelerate their integration efforts so as to accrue the expected benefits from the countries’ collective efforts.
The Head of State said he was happy that SADC had made tremendous strides in several areas including trade, infrastructure development, peace, security, health, education as well as food security.
President Lungu said the construction of the Kazungula Bridge across the Zambezi River, the building of one-stop border posts, the Univisa pilot projects in the region as well as the trans-frontier conservation were some of the strides that had been made for the region to be integrated.