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The leadership of the steering team of the COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite has changed hands. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has handed over the chairmanship of the COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite arrangement

to his counterpart, His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, for a term of one year.

Likewise, the Chairmanship of the Tripartite Task Force Mr Sindiso Ngwenya who is also the Secretary General of COMESA, handed-over the mantle to his counterpart in the SADC Dr. Stergomena Tax,

The handing over took place in Sharm El Sheikh today after the signing of the landmark Tripartite Free Trade Area.

President Mugabe thanked the Tripartite Task force for the help rendered to his country during his tenure as Chairperson adding that he found it easy to "steer the ship" due to the support rendered to him as chair by both the Task Force as well as the member States.

“As I handover the instruments of power to my colleague and brother Prime Minister Desalegn, I am proud we have already made great strides to achieving our dream as Africa and I leave a happy man”, Mugabe said.

Prime Minister Desalegn, who is also Chairman of the COMESA Authority said he was pleased to take over as chair after President Mugabe as he will receive support anytime.

“I am optimistic that despite the unfinished negotiations in the tripartite arrangement, I and the team of experts through in the Taskforce will ensure a quick and speedy implementation of integration programmes,” he said. “It is my hope that the remaining activities will be finalized as soon as possible in the upcoming negotiation for a.” The handover of the Tripartite Task force was contained in a statement issued by the three Chief Executives of the COMESA-EAC-SADC; Mr Sindiso Ngwenya of COMESA, Dr. Richard Sezibera of the EAC and Dr. Stergomena Tax.

The three had met earlier in the margins of the Tripartite Council of Ministers and exchanged views on the handover of the Chairperson position of the Tripartite Task Force. During the meeting, they noted that the position of the Task Force was for the duration of one year after which it rotates to the next REC.

“The current chairperson of the Taskforce namely COMESA Secretariat took over in June 2014 in the margins of the AU Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and handing over was therefore due,” they said in the statement.

Accordingly, SADC Secretariat will now take over as the Chairperson of the Task Force with immediate effect. They commended Mr Sindiso Ngwenya for having successfully steered the tripartite taskforce over the past one year.

The CEOs also agreed that detailed handed over notes would be prepared by COMESA Secretariat and transmitted to the SADC Secretariat by 10 July 2015