The Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) will from August 10 to 17 virtually hold its 40th Summit of Heads of State due to the threat posed by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Sadc usually holds its ordinary summit once a year around August to discuss the overall policy direction and control functions of the 16-member regional bloc, but has this year been forced to hold a virtual meeting to reduce the risk of contagion.
In a statement posted on www.sadc.int, Sadc says: “In view of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the summit and preceding meetings will be conducted virtually with a reduced agenda, focusing on the handover of the Sadc chairpersonship, and critical institutional matters.”
The decision comes after several countries, on advice from the World Health Organisation, imposed restrictions on international travel and public gatherings to contain the spread of the virus. The restrictions have made it harder to hold international conferences.
Mozambique will host the virtual meetings in its capacity as the incoming chairperson of Sadc.
During the meeting, Tanzanian President John Magufuli is expected to hand over the Sadc chairpersonship to Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi.
This year’s summit will be held under the theme Sadc: 40 Years Building Peace and Security; and Promoting Development and Resilience in the Face of Global Challenges.
The summit is made up of all Sadc Heads of States or Government and is managed on a troika system comprising the current Sadc chairperson, the incoming chairperson and the immediate past chairperson.
The Ordinary Sadc Summit will be preceded by the meeting of the Sadc Standing Committee of Senior Officials; the Sadc Finance Committee; Sadc Council of Ministers Meeting; as well as the Organ Troika Senior Officials, and Ministerial Council of the Organ Troika, and the and Troika Summit.