The new SADC Chairman, Dr John Magufuli of Tanzania has urged the 16-member regional trading bloc to speak with one voice on the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

Addressing SADC delegates soon after assuming the chairmanship President Magufuli said the region has also been affected by the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by western countries.

“This brotherly country has been on sanctions and they have not only affected the people of Zimbabwe but the entire region. it is like a human body, if you chop one of its parts it affects the whole body. i would like to seize this opportunity to call upon the international community to remove sanctions on Zimbabwe.

This brotherly country has opened for new chapters, I believe it is in the interest of the country that these sanctions removed, I urge SADC member states to speak with one voice on the issue of Zimbabwe,” he said.

The SADC chair also noted with concern low levels of industrialisation within the trading bloc saying progress and industrialization are intertwined.

“We are selling goods of less value which explains why our people remain poor. the problem of unemployment remains with us as we export raw materials, this is the reason why as SADC we adopted industrialisation agenda. industrialisation will be a priority at every summit, this effort will promote industrialisation of the region,” he said.

President Magufuli takes over the SADC chairmanship from Namibian President Hage Geingob who said the full realisation of the regional block’s vision and mission are hinged on deliberate and coordinated efforts to accelerate social development that prioritizes youth development and empowerment.