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THE 34th Summit of Sadc Heads of State and Government that begins in Victoria Falls next month will be a virtual celebration of the tenets of Government’s economic blue-print, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation if the summit theme unveiled yesterday is anything to go by.

Addressing the media on preparations for the summit, which coincides with Zimbabwe’s 34th year of independence and democracy, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the summit will be held under the theme: “Sadc Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition”.

Sadc leaders, Minister Mumbegegwi said, will discuss how member-countries can come out of poverty through beneficiating and adding value to their natural resources before export.

Value addition and beneficiation is the fourth cluster of Zim-Asset, Government’s five-year blueprint, that seeks to achieve sustainable development and social equity anchored on indigenisation, empowerment on the back of judicious exploitation of the country’s abundant human and natural resources.

The other three clusters of the results based agenda are: food security and nutrition social services and poverty eradication infrastructure and utilities and value addition and beneficiation.

Minister Mumbengegwi said the summit theme was selected carefully because Zimbabwe believes gly in the importance of beneficiating and value adding of natural resources.

“I think you have all heard how President R.G Mugabe has never stopped talking about this issue,” said Minister Mumbengegwi. “Why should we always export our natural resources in their raw form? By so doing, we only get about 10 percent of the value of our products whether they be in agriculture, mining or whatever, we lose a lot.

“So, the question of value addition is critical not only to Zimbabwe, but to the whole of Sadc, so in consultation with the secretariat we have come up with this particular theme.

“The Sadc region is endowed with resources, the same as Africa as a whole. Very rich in resources, but the paradox is that with such abundance of natural resources we are poor. That’s the paradox. Why are we poor?, because we do not get the full benefit of our natural resources.

“This is the thrust we would want to champion not only during President Mugabe’s chairmanship of Sadc, but to be able to come up with strategies and programmes of action which can continue even after President Mugabe has left the chairmanship of the organisation because this is a critical area not only for Sadc, but for the whole African continent and other developing countries,” he said.

Watch the minister speaking on the appointment of President Mugabe as chairman of Sadc below

Minister Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe was ready to host the summit that would mark a paradigm shift in the region’s economic development.

He said about 450 delegates were expected to attend the summit, with about 700 guests gracing the opening and closing sessions.

Government, he said, had set up a National Steering Committee chaired by Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Ray Ndhlukula that has met about nine times to prepare for the summit.

He said 10 sub-committees chaired by permanent secretaries have also been set up to look at various aspects.

“We have been working very closely with the Sadc secretariat in our preparations,” Minister Mumbengegwi said.

“The executive secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax has been here on two occasions and the Sadc officials have been here a number of times in order for us to consult with one another very closely to make sure everything is on track.

“I can assure you that the preparations are on track. We are on schedule and everything will be in place by the time that the summit is held. All the logistics are in place, accommodation, transport, everything is now in place.”

Minister Mumbengegwi said the corporate sector chipped in to support Government to ensure that Zimbabwe successfully hosts the summit.

“What this means is that for the next three years Zimbabwe will be playing an important role in the leadership of Sadc,” he said.

As deputy chairperson Zimbabwe was a member of the Summit Troika from August last year, and will assume the chair until August next year after which it becomes a member of the Organ Troika up to August 2016.

The summit would be held between August 17 and 18, but would be preceded by the meeting of the Council of Ministers from the 14th to the 15th of August, while a meeting of the Standing Committee of Senior Officials would be held between August 10 and 12.

The Finance Sub-Committee would have met on August 8 and 9.

Source : The Herald

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