The people and governments of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region, received with sorrow and heartfelt grief, the sad news of the passing on of one of the region’s great leaders of Africa’s transformation and a champion for the integration of SADC. Throughout his life, former President H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa, 3rd President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Chairperson of SADC from 2003 to 2004 provided hope and instilled a sense of selfless sacrifice to the people of the United Republic of Tanzania, SADC and Africa, and the legacy he leaves behind shall continue to inspire generations.
During his tenure as Chairperson of SADC, the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) was approved in August 2003 and launched in March 2004 in the United Republic of Tanzania. The RISDP mapped the regional vision and signaled an important step that provided a clear strategic direction with respect to SADC development and integration, in line with the SADC Common Agenda, as enshrined in the SADC Treaty of 1992. In the same year, 2003, the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation (SIPO) was approved, and the SADC the Mutual Defence Pact was adopted.
His Excellency Mkapa assumed the leadership of SADC at a time when the region was grappling with increased cases of HIV and AIDS. Under his stewardship, SADC approved the establishment of a regional fund for the implementation of the SADC HIV and AIDS programmes in the SADC region. Other instruments that were signed during H.E. Mkapa’s tenure as SADC Chairperson, included the SADC Charter on Fundamental Social Rights, which among other things, calls for the creation of a conducive environment, to facilitate closer and active consultations among partners, and in a spirit conducive to harmonious labour relations.
His Excellency Mkapa will also be remembered by SADC for championing the construction of the SADC Headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana. He initiated the process by calling upon SADC Member States to contribute towards the construction of the Headquarters. When he toured the SADC Secretariat in June 2004, His Excellency Mkapa said he was going to push hard for the construction of the new SADC Headquarters, and he made financial contribution on behalf of the United Republic of Tanzania, a gesture that motivated all Member States to contribute instantly, and the SADC Headquarters came to reality.
The Former President’s latest support towards SADC’s integration was in August 2019 when he delivered a Keynote Address at the SADC Public Lecture on ‘Deepening Integration in SADC: Achievements, Challenges, and Opportunities’ held on 15th August, 2019 at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Lecture that was attended by a number of stakeholders across a broad spectrum, stimulated discussion on regional integration ahead of the 39th SADC Summit hosted in Dar es Salaam, by highlighting SADC’s key achievements, challenges hindering the deepening of integration, and ways to overcome the challenges.
During his Keynote Address, His Excellency Mkapa highlighted that SADC has a lot of successes to be proud of and that the region must not shy away from celebrating its collective achievements inspired by its common history. His Excellency Mkapa called on the SADC governments to seek smart partnerships with the private sector and increase the region’s productivity in the manufacturing and labour sectors, especially in the agro-industry and processing sectors. He added that “with the right policies and incentives, we can establish our countries as attractive destinations for win-win investment alliances”. As we celebrate his life, let us remember this call.
SADC will forever cherish his role in championing the SADC integration agenda, and also vividly remember his firm belief in sustainable development, and his immense contribution to socio-economic development, and peace and security, in the SADC Region and beyond. His death is a great loss not only to the United Republic of Tanzania and the SADC Region, but also to the African continent at large.
Our heartfelt condolences to the Mkapa family, Government, and people of the United Republic of Tanzania. We wish the bereaved Mkapa family strength, good health, peace, and comfort.
Issued on behalf of SADC by:
His Excellency Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE AND
CHAIRPERSON OF THE ORGAN ON POLITICS, DEFENCE AND SECURITY COOPERATION
25th July 2020