As Namibia prepares to roll-out the red carpet for SADC leadership so too shall it have to dig deep into its already dry pockets to lavishly show true hospitality to the delegates.
For the transport and logistics, about N$50 million is budgeted for the summit, and it will also cater for the fuel needs of vehicles from Government and private car rental service providers.
All in all over 200 vehicles are required to transport Heads of State, ministers, SADC Secretariat staff, and delegations from all 16 member countries. These and other examples of what many in and outside of government would consider excessive spending are detailed in a preparatory document seen by this publication.
192 Presidents cars
It is anticipated that each Head of State will require about 12 cars to make his convoy that includes security details and official handlers. If all 16 Heads of State come, it means the host will require at least 192 cars for them alone.
Others cars are distributed as follows: three cars for Head of delegation; two for SADC Executive Secretary; three for Deputy Executive Secretary; and three minibuses plus two sedans for the SADC Secretariat Personnel.
Meanwhile the Government Garage only has 28 Mercedes Benz E2-500 sedans, 26 BMWs 528is, eight (8) Hyundai Sonatas and 15 Quantum mini-buses and IVECO 22 seaters.
Accommodation and hospitality centres are set to reap heavily from the Summit as SADC delegates are expected to spend heavily during their stay.
Moreover, media analysts said that the total costs of the summit would be higher because the government has not released all the costs.
Namibia will be taking over the Chairmanship of SADC as from August 2018, therefore, a summit will be held in Windhoek 17-18 August 2018.
Government’s biggest headache is the accommodation and transport requirements which could prove to be an uphill task.
Information available confirms that the Minister of Finance has instructed all Accounting Officers to obtain exemptions for votes to be used for the summit.
This means any procurement related to Summit will not have to follow the normal tender procedures; a development that often opens a window for corruption.
Suppliers of promotional material such as banners, electronic billboards and TV screens have already been selected.
In fact, leaked documents indicate that over N$500 000 will be used to buy promotional material for the summit.
Other funds will be diverted to newspaper, television and radio advertisements. According to the summit preparatory documents, all branding material must be in English, Portuguese and French.
The preparatory committee has also designed a logo for the summit but it was stopped in its tracks after the SADC Secretariat indicated that some member states feel it may cause confusion and that it may give the impression that the SADC logo has been redesigned.
“Taxpayers should take comfort that a summit like this will bring other benefits to the country.
While there were legitimate reasons for the concerns on how the procurement will be monitored since Treasury gave several exemptions, there is a general concern that the budget ceiling will be exceeded,” said a source in the preparatory committee.
He said there is need for sweeping new spending restrictions to be put in place to curtail potential overspending.
The preparatory document is reminiscent of those in the past that are related to national events where lavish spending on conferences hosted by government saw spending soar beyond the set ceilings, such revelations prompted government-wide cutbacks in such meetings.
The summit is expected to review progress towards regional integration and promotion of socio-economic development.
The theme for the summit will be “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”. During the past four SADC summits there was a focus on how the region can attain industrial development.
The industrialisation trajectory started during the 34th SADC Summit held in Zimbabwe in 2014, which focused on “Economic Transformation and Sustainable Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition.” Successive summits held in 2015, 2016 and 2017 in Botswana, the Kingdom of eSwatini and South Africa, respectively, maintained the industrialisation momentum — marking the first time in the history of SADC that a similar theme has run for so many years.
For example, the summit in Botswana centred on “Accelerating Industrialisation of SADC Economies, Through Transformation of Natural Endowment and Improved Human Capital, ” while the summit in South Africa ran under the theme “Partnering with the Private Sector in Developing Industry and Regional Value Chains.”
In this regard, the focus of Namibia as the new SADC chair from August will be on strengthening infrastructure development in the region as well as harnessing the human capital dividend through youth empowerment to ensure sustainable growth.
Infrastructure development is pivotal to the socio-economic growth including the industrialisation agenda of the region as thriving economies depend on a reliable infrastructure base, both at the national and regional level.
In fact, one of the three pillars of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap adopted in April 2015 is Enhancing Infrastructure.
In addition to Geingob assuming the leadership of the regional organisation from his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa in August, the 38th SADC Summit is expected to welcome its newest member, the Union of Comoros.
Comoros was formally admitted into SADC at the 37th SADC Summit held in Pretoria, South Africa.
Its admission brings the membership of SADC to 16, an indication of the confidence shown in the regional organisation.
The other 15 member states are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, ESwatini, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Comoros Foreign Minister Mohamed Souef said the country is looking forward to joining SADC and developing relations with its neighbours.
Comoros is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, off the eastern coast of Africa between north-eastern Mozambique and north-western Madagascar.
At 1 660 square kilometres in size, excluding the contested island of Mayotte that is claimed by France, the Comoros is the third smallest African country by area, and has a population of about 798 000 people.
As a nation formed at a crossroads of different civilisations, the archipelago is noted for its diverse culture and history.
It consists of three major islands and numerous smaller ones, all in the volcanic Comoros archipelago.
It became part of the French colonial empire in the 19th century before becoming independent in 1975.
Prior to the actual summit of SADC heads of state and government on 17-18 August, there will be meetings of senior officials, followed by the Council of Ministers.