The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, on 14 April, 2021 joined calls by Africa’s former Heads of State and Government, under the Africa Forum, to address the root causes of conflict and instability to ensure sustainable peace, stability and development on the continent.
H.E. Dr Tax made the call in her address to the Africa Forum Core Group Stakeholder Consultation Meeting which was convened virtually by the Secretariat of the Africa Forum in collaboration with the Government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Africa Forum is advancing the notion of a New Approach to Peace and Stability in Africa (NAPSA), which aims to focus on addressing root causes of conflict, that will complement the work of the African Union and Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
H.E. Dr Tax highlighted that former Heads of State have previously made significant contributions to peace and security in the SADC Region through their involvement in mediation and conflict resolution. H.E. Dr Tax cited the role of Former President of South Africa, H.E. Thabo Mbeki, in bringing political parties together after the 2008 elections in Zimbabwe, leading to the establishment of the Government of National Unity as well as the work of Former President of Mozambique, H.E. Joaquim Alberto Chissano who was the SADC Mediator and Special Envoy to Madagascar whose efforts led to the holding of the 2018 elections and the eventual peaceful transfer of power in Madagascar.
While committing to continue working with the Africa Forum, the SADC Executive Secretary noted that the Forum’s new approach to peace and security, is line with measures put in place by SADC to addresses the current and potential threats to economic and political stability in the Region as identified in the peace and security threat assessment that was conducted by SADC in 2020. The identified threats, include poverty, marginalisation and exclusion, radicalisation and extremism, political and economic exploitation, illicit trade in natural resources, forms of violence including gender-based violence, organised crime and criminal activities, abuse of social media, and a migration crisis.
In their remarks at the meeting, H.E. Chissano, who is Chairperson of the Africa Forum, H.E. Nicephore Soglo, Former President of the Republic of Benin and Vice-Chairperson of the Africa Forum, H.E. Mbeki, H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of the Republic of Liberia, and H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, Former Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, underscored that the new approach to peace and stability should sustainably silence the gun, while addressing poverty, exclusion and marginalization, particularly among the youth who constitute 70 per cent of the 1.3 billion of the Africa’s population.
Prof John Tesha, Executive Secretary of the Africa Forum Secretariat, said that Former Heads of States have the experience that Africa can tap into to consolidate peace, security and development. The Africa Forum is a platform for former African Heads of State and Government which aims to harness the experience, moral authority and good offices of former African Heads of State and Government to advance African development, particularly by promoting sustainable peace and security, enhancing and sustaining democratic governance in Africa and promoting human rights.