Pretoria - Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe was nowhere to be seen at the official opening of the 37th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ordinary Summit in Pretoria on Saturday.
Mugabe who is accused of assaulting 20-year-old South African model Gabriella Engels was set to accompany her husband Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to the opening of the gathering by Heads of state at the Department of International Relations (Dirco) head quarters in the capital city.
President Mugabe arrived with his entourage.
The Summit opened under heavy security. In his welcome remarks South African President Jacob Zuma and incoming chairperson of SADC said 2017 symbolised an important year for SADC as it marked the Jubilee celebration of our organisation.
"The time is opportune for all of us as Heads of States and Government, to take stock of the progress as well as opportunities created since SADC’s inception. As a region we have a blueprint, the Revised Regional Integration Strategic Development Programme (2015-2020) to guide our economic development and integration," he said.
Zuma said commendable progress in implementation has since been made with the development of the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, the Industrialisation as well as Strategy and Roadmap.
He also added the meeting of Heads of State and Government is vital as it gives leaders an opportunity to engage on the progress and challenges as outlined in the SADC Integration Agenda during over the last year.
He commended Swaziland for the work it had done as chair saying going forward South Africa remained committed towards building on the gains it has made so far.
Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Tabane said he has.declared war on corruption in his country.
It is non negotiablefor SADC to tell me to fight corruption," he said, adding free and fair elections cross the region and the Continent showed that countries were serious about democracy.
SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax who grew emotional during her speech thanked leaders in the region for their continued support including former Africa Union chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who.gave her guidance as a woman leader.