SADC States Too Dependent On SA

Smaller states within the SADC bloc are still too dependent on South Africa and they should collaborate more with other smaller nations to reverse the situation, says the former president of Botswana, Festus Mogae.

Mogae made the remarks during an interview with New Era in Windhoek yesterday morning.

“By this I do not mean the smaller nations must exclude South Africa, but they must instead continue negotiating for a fair share of the outcome of the collaborations that they currently have with South Africa,” said the former statesman.

Mogae said South Africa cannot be blamed for being more developed and taking up the Big Brother role in SADC.

“As our brothers they have a duty to help but we should first help ourselves,” he said.

With most smaller nations in southern Africa relying on South Africa for electricity supply, Mogae said setting up electricity generation projects is costly, hence countries must join hands to build power stations. “The unit cost to put up big power stations will be comparable with putting up small power stations,” he reasoned.

He said collaborations between smaller nations are not a panacea but rather a facilitator – “for us to change things we cannot do ourselves by virtue of the size of our budgets”.

“It is high time that we use our resources and join hands because we will be weak if each country is to work on its own.

“We are all facing an energy crisis. This is a challenge that requires collective thinking so that we can find short term and long term solutions,” he said.

Mogae is worried that if smaller nations do not join hands, their financial standing will not be enough to cater for the costs involved when it comes to setting up power stations which normally costs billions.

ON YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT AND HIVAIDS

Having fought tooth and nail to create awareness and stop the spread of HIVAids during his tenure as president of Botswana, Mogae remains concerned about the way the killer disease continues to take lives and claims that the HIVAids fight has receded to the back of many people’s minds.

“I remain concerned because our governments and youth are behaving as if HIVAids is something of the past which we have overcome, but it is not the case,” he said.

“This worries me, especially when it comes to the young ones who have not experienced the shock effect of seeing people die in numbers, especially during the time that the disease was relatively new,” he said.

Mogae said emphasis should be placed on new infections because those living with the virus are able to get treatment.

Mogae is equally worried about the high level of unemployment among the youth in the region, adding that in some countries the youth unemployment average is higher than that of the national average.

He urged countries to focus on employment creation activities and at the same time to promote infrastructural development.

“Youth unemployment is worrying because the majority of the population in most countries comprises of the youth. Many are educated but unemployed,” he said.

Mogae partly blamed this on training that is not suited for the job market and the recession that has hit most global superpowers in recent years.

Mogae last night delivered the keynote address on “Botswana and Namibia: Strategic options for shared prosperity amidst global challenges” during an Alumni Dinner held by the Namibia Business School.

Source : New Era