Pretoria – Security has been beefed up ahead of the official opening of the 37th Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Double Troika Summit on Saturday.
The scaling up of security also comes amid a planned protest by the SADC Democratic Forum which comprises of members of the South African, Swaziland and Lesotho Communist Parties as well as the Swaziland Solidarity Network.
Department of International Relations and Cooperation on Friday said up to 15 heads of state were expected to gather at Dirco’s headquarters in Pretoria.
This includes leaders from Tanzania, Angola, Mozambique, Botswana and Swaziland.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, whose wife, Grace has been mired in controversy this week after she allegedly assaulted 20-year-old model Gabriella Engels with an extension cord at a Sandton hotel, is also set to attend the Summit.
This week South Africa took over from Swaziland as the next chair of SADC – a role it will assume for the next year.
Ministers and other stakeholders also used several meetings to deliberate on political issues affecting countries within the region as well as to map out plans by leaders for regional integration.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that a planned picket by the SADC Democracy Forum outside Dirco on Saturday morning is allegedly illegal.
An official from Dirco said the group had not been granted permission to protest. Citing reasons for the picket, the forum in a statement said it was concerned the region was becoming the opposite of what it was intended to be.
“We are often persuaded that SADC is a progressive and democratic organisation but the behaviour of the governments of a number of its member states tells us otherwise.”
It said pointed out the myriad challenges the countries other countries were facing.
It said the Democratic Republic of Congo was in a constant war in an environment in which its President is unwilling to call an election while in Zimbabwe had no formal Consitution implemented despite its citizen voting for it two years ago.
It also said in Swaziland, the feudal monarchy had banned all political parties adding there is no vestige of democracy.
“As citizens of countries within SADC, we demand that SADC enforces the implementation of democracy and human rights practices among its members according to the provisions of the statements in its own Treaty and other documents which it has issued,” it said.