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President Chakwera addresses SADC Summit in Lilongwe, tackles democracy, Covid-19 and climate change | Malawi Nyasa Times


The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) incoming Chairperson, President Lazarus Chakwera has said in order to maintain peace and security in the region “beyond remedial efforts to end pockets of conflict”, there is need to sustain democratic norms, the protection of human rights, and the strengthening of governance institutions.

“These are the soils in which the seeds of peace and security flourish. For this reason, the pattern of peaceful transitions of power we have seen in our region in recent years, the Republic of Zambia being the latest member, are worthy of global acclaim and our applause,” he said when he delivered his welcoming speech on Tuesday, 17 August, 2021, at the start of the 41st Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) in the capital, Lilongwe.

President Chakwera said one of the major threats to the regional integration agenda that member states must collectively be vigilant against is regional insecurity. This noted that SADC member states are proactive in taking bold steps to arrest any emerging pockets of instability.

Turning to Covid-19, he said the pandemic has either stalled or reversed the progress SADC member states had made in the regional integration agenda, “gains that took years and sweat to achieve, we gather here with a shared sense of urgency to revitalise our economies”.

“We must redouble our efforts in the areas where we can register quick gains. Chief among them is the fostering of an environment for the creation of jobs for young people across the region, which we must do as a matter of urgency. Our convergence here must result in revitalized trade across our borders, enhanced industrial production within our border, and accelerated recovery of key sectors like tourism in the wake of the pandemic.

“The revival of our economies depends on our collective ability to dispose of this existential threat. It is therefore imperative that we keep up and step up the efforts we are making as SADC to comply with the guidelines we already have for stopping this pandemic in its tracks,” said President Chakwera, noting that the Summit is precisely the occasion to which they must rise and come up with lasting solutions to Covid-19.

One such solution, he said, is the successful rollout of a region-wide vaccination programme.

“The efforts made thus far by member states are worthy of applause, but we all know that we are far from the desired goal of reaching herd immunity and reducing high transmission rates. We must therefore tackle the roadblocks standing in the way of our quest to reach this goal. One critical roadblock we must confront is the toxic nationalism that is causing some nations in the world to hoard millions of vaccine doses and deny other nations access to the same.

“Similarly, we must confront the toxic nationalism that is causing some regions in the world to deny other regions like SADC the rights to produce vaccines for their own populations,” he said.

President Chakwera also cited climate change, which now accounts for many natural disasters in the region, as another major challenge. He said Cyclone Idai, claimed thousands of lives and defeated efforts to eradicate poverty, food insecurity, and infrastructural underdevelopment.

“Unusual climate patterns continue to displace communities and destroy crops, causing great suffering to our peoples. We must speak with one voice and employ a common strategy to address this threat.

“I mention these three threats to regional integration efforts to motivate you to stay the course. The key pillars of regional integration must be pursued and the goal of regional integration must be attained. We all agree that if we truly want inclusive and sustainable economic transformation across SADC, then regional integration is non-negotiable.

“We must enhance cross-border trade and investment in our region through the existing SADC mechanisms and where need be, introduce new ones. We must fully embrace industrialization as the most effective means of achieving the main goals of SADC namely: increased economic productivity; stronger regional integration; and reduced poverty for people living in the region. We must facilitate the free movement of our peoples in a manner commensurate with our shared conviction that we are truly a community of shared values and shared interests,” he said.

Among the Heads of State in attendance include Felipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique, the outgoing Chairperson of SADC, Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, outgoing Chairperson of SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and incoming Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, among others. Also in attendance are Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, SADC Executive Secretary, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

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