President Thabo Mbeki will assume the chair of the Southern African Development Community next weekend, the Department of Foreign Affairs has announced.
The department said on Sunday that South Africa would assume the chairmanship when it hosts the ordinary SADC heads of state and government summit in Sandton, Gauteng, on Saturday and Sunday .
The aim of the summit is to strengthen regional political and economic integration and development.
The summit will discuss political deve- lopments in the region, food security and the financing and construction of the new SADC headquarters.
Next Sunday, SADC will launch the Free Trade Area (FTA) of the community.
The FTA will formalise the elimination of trade tariffs among SADC members, and enhance regional economic integration and the growth of bigger regional markets.
A SADC Council of Ministers meeting will take place on Thursday and Friday.
Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, pictured, will lead the SA delegation. - Sapa