“We need an organisation that moves swiftly and responds timeously to the challenges that we face. We cannot afford to be complacent,” Zuma said.
He said the leaders had the opportunity to place the Southern African region on a growth path that will in the long-term benefit all the citizens of this area.
“That is why we need to act decisively,” said Zuma.
Presidents from the five member states are currently meeting in Pretoria in an attempt to carve a new model that will sustain and expand the union.
The union is on the edge after Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho signed an interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union while Namibia and South Africa held back.
Analysts have warned that the dissolution of Sacu could have devastating economic and humanitarian consequences.
Admitting that the union was facing challenges, Zuma said the summit was an opportunity for the leaders to reflect on the destiny of the union.
In his concluding remarks, he said the decisions to be taken at the summit must take the organisation forward and lay the required building blocks for the future of Sacu that is developmental and which responds to the needs of people.
The leaders are considering solutions to the various challenges facing the union.
This includes the consolidation of Sacu through common policies and strategies; pursuit of deeper regional integration through common policy development and common institutions; and strengthening Sacu’s institutional capacity.
Despite these challenges Zuma, who leads the largest economy, was confident that the summit could still reposition the continents oldest union to meet ongoing economic challenges.
He said the union must design and implement programmes that will ensure sustainable development in all member countries.
He envisaged an organisation that is capable of advancing the promotion of cross-border trade and development, especially now that the World Cup was over it had opened investment opportunities for the continent.
“It must be able to forge new partnerships with regional, continental and global trade entities that will contribute to our development priorities,” said Zuma.
During the summit, which ends today, the leaders will review the revenue-sharing agreement as well as the 2002 SACU Agreement, specifically to broaden it to include areas such as Trade in Services, Finance and Investment, Government Procurement, the Environment, Market and Monetary Integration.
Other items on the agenda include the establishment of outstanding institutions such as Tariff Boards and Tribunal and positioning the customs union within the regional context, as well as the signing of new members. – BuaNews