The Council of Ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held its virtual meeting on 13 August, 2020 with a call for strong and coordinated measures for the region to address the impact of COVID-19 which threatens to reverse the gains made in regional development and integration.
During the meeting Hon. Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Mozambique took over the Chairpersonship of the SADC Council of Minister from Hon. Prof. Palamagamba John Kabudi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania.
In his remarks, Outgoing Chairperson of Council, Hon. Prof. Kabudi said the multiple hazards such as COVID-19 have highlighted the importance of regional cooperation and coordinated response, as well as the need to come up with innovative mechanisms to strengthen resilience, preparedness and responsiveness for disasters including pandemics, epidemics and related hazards.
He said, through collective resolve in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SADC was able to promote intra-trade in the region and beyond by developing Regional Guidelines on Harmonisation and Facilitation of Cross Border Transport of Goods across the Region, leading to a seamless flow of trade in the region and mitigating the negative health impacts of the pandemic.
Hon. Prof. Kabudi said under the leadership of the United Republic of Tanzania, SADC finalised the formulation of the Post 2020 Agenda, culminating in the draft SADC Vision 2050 and Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 Blueprints which are aimed at providing strategic direction to advance the SADC regional integration agenda.
In her acceptance speech, Hon. Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo, commended the Outgoing Council Chairperson for the steering the work of Council and for the achievements that SADC has made under his leadership notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic. She pledged the commitment of the Republic of Mozambique to strengthening political and economic integration, by promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, industrialization, trade and investment agenda.
Hon. Dlhovo called for a coordinated and collective action to contain terrorism and other security threats to ensure sustained peace and security in the region in keeping with the 40th Summit theme: 40 Years Building Peace and Security, and Promoting Development and Resilience in the Face of Global Challenges.
The Executive Secretary of SADC, H.E. Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax thanked the Outgoing Chairperson of Council for his wisdom, guidance and dedication to the SADC development and integration agenda, which enabled business continuity and attainment of a number of milestones, despite the severe challenges associated with the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. H.E. Dr Tax assured the new Chairperson of Council of the Secretariat’s unwavering support in driving the SADC agenda during her tenure.
On the COVID-19 pandemic, H.E Dr Tax commended SADC Member States for the decisions and the rigorous measures put in place to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19, reduce human suffering, and minimize the damage to SADC economies. She encouraged SADC citizens to remain vigilant and comply with preventive measures and expressed the commitment of the SADC Secretariat to continue being innovative in adapting to the demands of a dynamic global environment.
H.E. Dr Tax added that, as part of the SADC Regional Response to COVID-19, the region resolved to enhance regional pharmaceutical manufacturing capacities, whereby Member States are encouraged to develop local and regional pharmaceutical manufacturing capacities that are safe and uphold highest standards of integrity.
The SADC Executive Secretary highlighted that the adoption of SADC Guidelines on Movement of Goods and Services across the region during COVID-19, and Standard Operating Procedures have greatly facilitated movement of essential goods and contributed not only to the containment of COVID-19, but also enabled the mitigation of socio-economic hardships to SADC citizens, while minimizing disruptions to economic activities in the region.
The Council of Ministers meeting was held ahead of the Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government scheduled for 17th August, 2020, where His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique will take over the Chairpersonship of SADC from His Excellency Dr John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, President of the United Republic of Tanzania.
According to Article 11 of the SADC Treaty, the Council of Ministers is responsible for, among others, overseeing the functioning and development of SADC, approving policies, strategies and programmes of SADC as well as advising the Summit of Heads of State and Government on matters of overall policy.