Lesotho has ratified more than 90 percent of the total number of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) legal instruments.
The country has also had the privilege of chairing SADC from 2006 to 2007 when Pakalitha Mosisili was the prime minister.
This is according to a new booklet, Lesotho SADC Success Stories, launched this week by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane.
“As a founding Member State, the Kingdom of Lesotho has always attached enormous importance to SADC and its evolution. Lesotho continues to make steady progress in the implementation of the SADC regional integration agenda and reaps benefits therefrom,” reads the book.
The Success Stories publication documents Lesotho’s milestones and the benefits derived from the SADC regional integration projects and programmes.
The booklet was launched during the closing of the two-day regional integration learning and exchange symposium in Maseru.
The symposium which ran from Monday to Tuesday this week, was aimed at facilitating the exchange of knowledge and understanding of the SADC regional integration architecture and processes undertaken by national coordination structures in the SADC region.
Speaking during the launch, Matlanyane indicated that the government of Lesotho recognised that information dissemination formed the foundations of good governance and accountability.
She said the booklet would assist in building visibility for SADC, which in turn can engender collaboration and partnership in the implementation of the SADC agenda.
“The scoping study that was done in 2018, brought to light the fact that many Basotho do not know what benefit Lesotho is getting from being a member of SADC,” she said.
“The study, therefore, made us realise that we owed it to the citizens of this country to inform them about what we, as a country, are getting out of being members of SADC,” she added.
She said there was a time when for the ordinary Mosotho, SADC was synonymous with the military intervention that Lesotho experienced in 1998 or the support that Lesotho is getting towards the national reforms programme.
“We, therefore, felt duty-bound to put a few stories together in a bid to enlighten the rest of Basotho,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of the participants, Daniel Chiwandamira said that the recommendations of the symposium included support of the implementation of the SADC Communication Strategy by building long-term relationships with the media, both print and electronic, and regularly provision of information updates on SADC activities while building the SADC brand.
Chiwandamira said the symposium also recommended for the review and adoption of the SADC National Committees (SNC) Model Blue Print to address the identified challenges and capitalise on the opportunities highlighted during the workshop.
This, he said, would ensure a common approach across all the member states.
“Participants emphasized the importance of Member States allocating adequate financial and human resources to support regional integration,” he said.
The symposium ran under the theme, ‘Strengthening Capacities of SADC National Committees for Effective Coordination and Communication in SADC’.
Speaking during the opening of the symposium, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning who is also the SADC National Contact Point for Lesotho, Nthoateng Lebona, stressed the need to build national and regional capabilities for coordination and communication to deepen regional integration for accelerated and broad-based economic development.
Lebona highlighted the need for information sharing among different actors, noting that regional integration and cooperation offer enormous opportunities for enlarging markets, which can be served through cooperation arrangements in different Member States.
Acting director of Industrial Development and Trade at the SADC Secretariat, Calicious Tutalife, said that the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 placed high emphasis on the importance of enhancing support towards SADC National Committees and National Contact Points to ensure that they are adequately capacitated to perform their coordination, monitoring, and communication roles in the implementation of the regional integration agenda at the national level.
The Symposium drew participants from the SADC National Contact Points, National Media Coordinators from across SADC Member States, National Civil Society representatives, Regional Non-State Actors, Media and Communications Experts, Lesotho National Cluster Sub-Committee members and the officials of the Lesotho Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, which was hosting the Symposium.