Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU- The Prime Minister (PM) Rt. Hon Samuel Matekane last Saturday officially assumed the leadership of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

 “The Kingdom of Lesotho will assume the Chairmanship of the SACU Summit, Council of Ministers and Commission, effective from 15th July 2023 to 14th July 2024,” reads SACU’s statement issued last week.

Also, Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane has assumed the role of the Chairperson of SACU Council of Ministers and the Principal Secretary (PS), Nthoateng Lebona, of the same Ministry became the Chairperson of SACU Commission.

It will also be recalled that earlier this year, a prominent Mosotho, one of the leaders in the corporate sector Thabo Khasipe was appointed SACU’s Executive Secretary. In this leadership role, Khasipe is among others charged with the responsibility to coordinate SACU’s activities and provide direction for this five Member States customs union.

The PM takes over the baton from Eswatini’s King Mswati III. He will hold this position for a period of one year.

SACU Member States include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa.

The oldest customs Union in the world, having been established in 1910.

During the recent SACU’s eighth Summit,  where he also handed over the baton to Lesotho, King Mswati called on the Member States to “assess and reflect” in light of the challenges facing the region as well as finding ways to address them.

He underscored the need to tap into opportunities for action and collaboration.

“We have seen this organisation grow from strength to strength, moving in the right direction. As members, we have an obligation to nurture this child of ours and where there are challenges we need to sit down and find amicable solutions.

“This is particularly important at this time as SACU works on the implementation of its recently approved strategic plan 2022-2027, in the midst of the recent global developments which are having a significant impact on our economies.

“The importance of SACU cannot be over-emphasised as it plays a major role in the development of our respective countries. We are pleased that we are currently experiencing positive developments in the collection of SACU receipts, which will contribute immensely to the social and economic development of our countries.”

While accepting the baton, Matekane pledged Lesotho’s will to build on the momentum of the gains and move with haste to implement the strategic plan.

“We come out of this Summit with renewed determination and vigour to build a more United and resilient SACU that will benefit its peoples,” he said.

As Lesotho takes over the leadership within SACU for this period, a question may arise, how will this leadership help shape the future not only for Lesotho but the Member States?