Zimbabwean earns second Comesa term

HARARE - The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has re-elected Zimbabwean Sindiso Ngwenya as its secretary-general for a second and final term.

Ngwenya was retained by heads of state of Comesa — a regional body covering 20 countries with a population of 430 million people and a combined GDP of $447 billion.

The extension of Ngwenya’s contract as secretary-general had overshadowed other issues at the 16th Comesa summit that ended in Uganda’s capital Kampala last weekend, especially security and trade.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told state TV that Ngwenya’s re-election was fantastic news.

Describing the renewal of Ngwenya’s contract as “probably one of the most important issues”, Mumbengegwi said: “The sitting secretary-general of Comesa is a Zimbabwean national. He is our man and so the renewal of that contract is important to us.

“Considering the discussions that took place, in the end it was agreed that he had served the organisation with distinction, commitment, dedication and richness. And the country recommended that his contract be renewed for another five years from the first of July next year.”

Ngwenya said he was thrilled by the confidence the heads of state had shown in him.

“As you know, the Comesa Treaty provides two terms and I am grateful that member countries have deemed it fit that they give me my second and final term in order to complete the unfinished business,” Ngwenya said.

President Mugabe said: “We are glad that Sindiso has been retained. When his term expires next year, he will start another five-year period. That is what we want to see our people doing, to show that they are efficient, that they can attract the support and admiration of others.”

Ngwenya is the third secretary-general of Comesa since it was transformed from the PTA in 1994. Prior to his current job, he was the assistant secretary-general of Comesa in charge of programmes — a position he held for 10 years.

The Comesa summit also discussed the “deteriorating security situation” in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and pushed for the resolution of a conflict over Rwanda-backed rebels in eastern Congo whose military advances have heightened tensions in one of Africa’s most volatile regions.

“Attention was paid to the deteriorating security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, that took quite some time,” Mumbengegwi said. “In the end it was decided that since the heads of state and government of Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC were currently meeting, it will be better to await the outcome of the meeting. The chances were that they would report any outcome of their consultations.”

Rwanda has rejected any link to eastern Congolese rebels, including the M23 group, who have been fighting Congolese government soldiers in North Kivu province since April, displacing some 470 000 civilians, according to UN figures.

The Comesa summit also discussed the situation in Madagascar where opposition leader and former radio DJ; Andry Rajoelina has staged a coup and ousted president Marc Ravalomanana with the support of the army.

In September, the main political parties inked a political “roadmap” aimed at healing the rift, and Rajoelina was made substantive president. In August, it was agreed fresh Madagascar presidential elections will be held next May.

“And related to that one, it was decided that Sadc has done a very good job in drawing up a roadmap and that the parties should implement that roadmap and show commitment to support the Sadc roadmap,” Mumbengegwi said. - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

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