Good morning.

I am very pleased to join you today, at this Summit. I thank you for inviting me to take part, on behalf of the African Union. I appreciate your bringing the AU and SADC closer, which indeed they should be.

Let me congratulate SADC for paying close attention to security and stability within the region and even beyond. As we all know, these are necessary conditions for the transformation we desire, and a critical part of the AU agenda.

Besides these socio-economic benefits, there are other security issues on our continent that go beyond national sovereignty, affect other nations, and call for collective action to resolve.

Wearing the hat of Chair of the AU, I wish to stress that we must meet such issues up front. It has happened before. Crises of security with cross-border implications have been settled by other countries or regional groupings. After all, we are all connected. And we all know too well that there are matters that we cannot just wish away but we have to face them directly and find the right remedies for them.

SADC has accomplished this task in the past in handling political and security issues in Lesotho and Madagascar, and recently in the Comoros.

You will be called upon to do the same again, where similar action is required, as indeed was the case in Zimbabwe in the recent past.

We can all be pleased that SADC and the AU accompanied the political process in Zimbabwe, and now matters are in the right direction and in the final stages in being resolved before the courts of law.

SADC has a similar role to play in DRC. We applaud the latest developments there, showing respect for the Constitution and the Agreement of December 2016. This is an important step, and others are hoped for as agreed by the people of this great country, You can count on the AU as a partner if you need support.

Excellencies, distinguished audience;

The theme of the Summit could not be more pertinent, to Africa’s transformation agenda.

Infrastructure development, as well as the free movement of persons, are key to translating our aspirations, into practical results for our citizens.

Equally, the long-term prospects or prosperity and security of Africa, depend on creating the conditions and environment that enable our young people, to achieve their full potential, right here at home.

We have the ability to do more for our countries individually, but even better, together.

Today, more than ever, collaboration among African countries is not a choice. It is an imperative, in real terms.

It is precisely because we recognise the necessity and advantage, of going beyond the borders of our respective countries, that we have joined forces through Regional Economic Communities, and the African Union.

Domestic priorities are, of course, important, and can never be disregarded. Those needs, are what brings us together, in the first place.

We must find a way of taking care of our home front, while also building our regional economic communities.

In the end we all gain. Our experience, is that we are infinitely stronger, when we face the world, as a common front, united in our diversity, and yet respectful of the interests of each country, whether large or small.

We have to keep that big picture in focus. We must also continually strive, to ensure that our actions, are always fully aligned with our ideals of African unity.

Just as important, while our stated commitments may be clear, we need to do more to match them with results.

Attitudes that weaken mutual trust, saying one thing and acting to the contrary, and antagonising neighbours, can only slow us down. Nobody gains, instead, we end up advancing the external interests, who benefit from a divided Africa.

Southern Africa has a long tradition of solidarity, born of the struggle for freedom, and sustained today, as a catalyst for progress.

This region has been a source of inspiration, for Africa as a whole. We must continue to build on that tradition, and expand it beyond SADC, across the continent.

Indeed, the Southern African Development Community’s industrialisation strategy clearly recognises that free trade facilitates export diversification, competitiveness, and inclusive growth.

We are also on the move, as a continent.

In the years ahead, the African Continental Free Trade Area, and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, will significantly increase the level of trade among African nations, while strengthening our negotiating position, globally.

I would also like to take this opportunity, to thank the Heads of State and Government gathered here, for the growing support and engagement, given to the institutional and financial reform, of the African Union.

Issues raised by individual Member States, continue to be addressed in a flexible and consultative manner.

This irreversible process, is critically important, for our ability to deliver on the key pillars of Agenda 2063, the Africa we want and deserve.

Let me thank you, once again, for the kind invitation to participate in this Summit.

I wish you fruitful deliberations, and I thank you for your kind attention.