Hon. Folks, President Lazarus Chakwera will this week assumed the chairpersonship of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) from his Mozambican counterpart Felipe Nyusi during the 41st Sadc heads of State Summit in Lilongwe.
Established in 1980 by Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho and Eswatini, Sadc seeks to achieve economic development, peace and security; alleviate poverty and enhance the standard of quality of life of its people’s.
This year’s summit follows a number of milestones achieved by the bloc in its 41 years of existence, notwithstanding the myriad challenges posed by poverty, Covid-19 and conflicts in some member States, among others.
Like his predecessors, Chakwera ascends to the Sadc chairmanship fully mindful of the tough task ahead him to fulfill Sadc objectives consistent with the aspirations of its founding fathers.
Surely, one of his priorities during his one-year tenure will be enhancing regional integration and fulfilling the many commitments his predecessors made towards peace and security—especially in Mozambique which is struggling with the threat of extremism.
Above all, this summit is another begging opportunity for Malawi and the visiting countries to reaffirm their commitment to boosting intra-regional trade which significantly remains low compared to other regions in the continent.
Looking over our shoulders today we also see millions of people in the now 16-member bloc still trapped in hopeless poverty, starvation and unemployment partly due to, among others, greed and poor governance by some past and present Sadc leaders.
Ex-Ethiopian Ruler His Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie once described ‘leaders’ as people who raise the standards by which they judge themselves, and by which they are willing to be judged.
And he said to be first in place one must be first in merit as well, meaning that they must submit themselves to a stricter self-discipline, and develop a more exemplary moral character demanded by their high offices.
Hon. Folks, accepting to shoulder the responsibility of 16 countries in the next 12 months proves that Chakwera has high standards to steer Sadc in line with the bloc’s objectives, goals and requirements and he surely knows he will be judged by his decisions along the way not only by Malawians.
Finally, congratulations to our President as he embarks on steering both Sadc and Malawi to ‘Canaan’.
Away from Sadc to football now because Malawi suffered another humiliation last week when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) rejected a push by Football Association of Malawi (FAM) to allow Malawi host its 2022 Fifa Qatar World Cup qualifying games at the Bingu National Stadium (BNS).
CAF inspectors visited the $70 million facility on August 2, but were ‘sickened’ by the poor state of the pitch surface, meaning that the country’s national soccer team will play its home qualifiers elsewhere in Africa.
According to CAF, BNS—opened in January 2017—does not meet the set CAF stadium minimum requirements because the pitch was not in playable condition on the day of inspection (certainly this was not the only problem).
Hon. Folks, the CAF ban is a vindication for many soccer fans who around 2019 warned government and FAM to ‘rescue’ BNS following filthy social media images that showed the stadium’s stands and toilets in sorry state. Huge grass cover on the pitch had also been badly devoured by ants.
Now! Malawians should really get worried when FAM acts all surprised today and vows to challenge any condemnation of the stadium when numerous warnings were issued by well-wishers not long ago on the dilapidated condition of the stadium.
One would be pardoned for suggesting that many of our sports administrators are shortsighted no wonder our football is going nowhere. This gross negligence will skin taxpayers in facilitating the flames’ home games in South Africa.
The least football administrators from Fam and government can do next time is fold hands and linger lazily watching things crumble. They must stay ahead as leaders and think outside if we are to raise the bar in sport as a country.