By Lovemore Ranga Mataire in Windhoek, Namibia
Namibian President Hage Geingob last week deplored ex-leaders who go into recluse after being out of power, saying the SADC region needs former leaders to continue participating in various initiatives that improves the well-being of their people.
In his acceptance speech as the new SADC chairperson, President Geingob paid tribute to Namibia's founding father and first president Sam Nujoma, second president Hifikepunye Pohamba and former Mozambican leader Joaquim Chissano for their continued participation in the well being of the region.
Nujoma, Pohamba and Chissano attended the summit.
While he did not mention names, former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been reclusive since his ouster from power last November and has never attended any public functions, in Zimbabwe and in the SADC region, since then.
"We are pleased to note that in SADC, we have a legacy of peaceful transitions of power. Following our successful fight against the forces of colonial occupation, many of our countries were ushered into an era of independence by extraordinary personalities.
"We are proud to have in our midst some of those extraordinary personalities. We therefore acknowledge the presence of Comrade Sam Nujoma, the First President and Founding Father of the Republic of Namibia, Second President Hifikepunye Pohamba and His Excellency President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique," said Geingob.
Geingob said his chairmanship will ensure that the region pulls together in the same direction in fulfilling the agenda of development, economic cooperation and regional integration.
He said the summit coincided with the centenary celebration of former South African leader Nelson Mandela who once reminded the region that; "There is no passion to be found playing small in setting for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
Geingob emphasised the importance of unity in the pursuance of improving the living standards of regional citizens.
"When we move forward as a united force and as a coordinated team, we will overcome challenges and accomplish our goals of ensuring that citizens of SADC and of Africa in general realise the benefits of socio-economic and political integration."
He said it was disheartening that some citizens were still encountering difficulties across borders within the region.
"South Africans who should benefit from five flights a day that take place between Johannesburg and Windhoek, are hindered by the fact that they are required to apply for an entry visa for every single visit. This is a barrier to business and ultimately our aspirations of integration," said Geingob.
Geingob congratulated President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the people of Zimbabwe for organising the just-ended harmonised elections in a peaceful manner.
He also noted some progress in DRC, Lesotho and Madagascar which he said came after the interventions and mediation efforts by SADC and international partners.
President Geingob takes over the regional bloc's chairmanship from South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa who assumed the reigns in February when then president Jacob Zuma stepped down.