The coronavirus pandemic and the political situation in Zimbabwe are set to dominate deliberations of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) during their three-day virtual summit.
Malawian CSOs participating in the virtual summit include Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) and Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) as part of the Southern African People’s Solidarity Network.
The network’s Malawi chairperson Benedicto Kondowe, who is also Csec executive director, said local non-governmental organisations’ interest was mainly on the post-Covid-19 recovery plan.
He said: “The National Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Plan is budgeted at $345 million out of which around three-quarters remains unfunded.” On her part, Mejn acting executive director Bertha Phiri agreed with Kondowe, saying the pressure building up now would culminate in pressure for public and private borrowing.
Speaking on behalf of players in the region’s informal sector, Augustin Tawanda of the Southern Africa Smallscale Cross Border Traders Association lamented that governments in the region were sidelining the informal sector despite being the hardest hit.
He urged regional participants to advocate flexibility in emancipation of the informal sector from the shackles of the pandemic.
Other issues that dominated the opening plenary of the virtual summit were low levels of information and communication technology infrastructure; increased corrupt practices in the procurement of Covid-19 resources and heavy-handedness in enforcing containment measures in some countries.
The network is expected to issue a communiqué to Sadc chairperson Filipe Nyusi, who is also the President of Mozambique.
Sadc Heads of State and Government met virtually on Monday for the 16-member regional bloc’s 40th Ordinary Summit. The meeting was hosted by Mozambique.