SADC, US finally meet in low-key meeting

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Timo Shihepo

Windhoek - The United States has finally met the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat to discuss possible cooperation at the regional level.

The Southern Times has been reporting recently on how Russia and SADC are making inroads in cementing bilateral ties, which made the US furious according to a source close to the SADC Secretariat.

This week, however, Charge d ‘Affaires of the Embassy of the United States of America in Botswana, Kali Jones, paid a courtesy visit to SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax, to discuss issues of cooperation and international relations affecting the US government and SADC.

Unlike the Russia and SADC meetings where several agreements were signed, this was a low-key meeting without a significant outcome.

Jones just briefed the secretariat about the upcoming National Security Strategy Development (NSSD) Workshop for Central and Southern Africa, which will be held in Gaborone, Botswana, from 8 to 12 April 2019. The workshop is facilitated by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in coordination with the US Department of Defence.

Dr Tax used the meeting to reiterate SADC’s call for the international community to lift socio-economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the US and Britain since the early 2000s. The US alongside Britain has been the key drivers of economic sanctions imposed by the West on Zimbabwe. US President Donald Trump even renewed the sanctions last year.

“These sanctions continue to deny Zimbabwe access to finance from multilateral financial institutions and private finance institutions and capital markets to support the country’s development agenda. The economic sanctions have led to limited private-sector investment into the country,” she said.

Dr Tax was also informed that the new US Ambassador to Botswana and Special Representative to SADC, John Bass, currently Ambassador of the USA to Afghanistan, will arrive on 1 March 2019 to assume his duties.

Dr Tax expressed SADC’s optimism for continued cooperation and relations through the new Ambassador and hailed the partnership and collaboration between SADC and the United States government.

“The SADC Secretariat looks forward to receiving the incoming US Ambassador and working with him in strengthening the existing cordial relations between SADC and the United States,” she said.

Last year, The Southern Times reported how the regional bloc was shifting its trade paradigm from the US to China and Russia, which left the former fuming with the fear of being left out.

This has, however, not deterred SADC and Russia from going ahead with their agreement, as the two parties met again a fortnight ago to discuss modalities for the implementation of the signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs).

The meeting was held at the SADC headquarters between Tax and Ambassador and Special Representative of the Russian government to SADC, Victor Sibilev.

During the meeting, Sibilev expressed his appreciation for the cordial relations that exist between the two organisations and pledged continued collaboration.

He highlighted areas such as manufacturing, agriculture and infrastructure development that could be considered in the operationalisation of the MoU on basic principles of relations and cooperation between SADC and Russia.

 

 

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