Midrand, October 23:

Leaders of a 14-nation southern African bloc Monday began a summit to review ambitious plans for a common market and currency and for free trade which have yielded few results so far.

The ‘extraordinary summit’ of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) drew seven heads of state and government and was hastily convened by the bloc’s chairman, Pakalitha Mosisili, the prime minister of Lesotho.

“Our agenda for today is to review the findings of a task force which was set up to prepare a road map for accelerating the establishment of a free trade area by 2008, customs union by 2010, a common market by 2015 and the economic union by 2018,” Mosisili said.

The meeting was attended by the presidents of Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Mosisili said SADC needed to get its act together to catch up with the rest of Africa.

“The African Union is accelerating the processes for regional economic integration,” he said.