The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Council of Ministers is calling for a strong and unified approach in response to the impact of Covid-19 in the region.
In a virtual meeting held on Thursday, the ministers ascertained that if not properly handled, the pandemic will reverse all gains registered in regional development and integration.
Outgoing chairperson of the council, Palamagamba John Kabudi, told the meeting that the pandemic continues to highlight the importance of regional cooperation and a coordinated response, among other approaches.
“We need to come up with innovative mechanisms to strengthen resilience, preparedness and responsiveness for disasters, including pandemics, epidemics and related hazards,” said the Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
He added: “Through collective resolve in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Sadc was able to promote intra-trade in the region and beyond by developing regional guidelines on harmonisation and facilitation of cross-border transport of goods across the region, leading to a seamless flow of trade in the region and mitigating the negative
health impacts of the pandemic.”
In a media briefing at the end of the virtual meeting, Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Eisenhower Mkaka said matters related to the bloc were discussed and how to approach them with Covid-19 being of particular interest.
“We looked at reports coming from different sections at the secretariat like matters of Covid-19 as in how they are impacting the region as a bloc as well as individual countries. While there is no specific thing about Malawi, but it is corporately
discussed in the context of the pandemic.
“Since the matters are not binding the heads of State and government, I shouldn’t be preempting what will be tabled because they might agree or not. But we have discussed the pandemic and resolutions will be passed by the summit,” said Mkaka.
Other highlights of the Sadc council’s meeting are matters of finances at the secretariat plus emerging issues within the region.
“Basically, this meeting feeds into the heads of State and government summit which takes place on Monday, 17 August. Other issues that were looked at are our [regional] approach to elections taking on the continental level. Besides that, we also looked at emerging issues like in Mozambique where we are having an Islamic insurgency in the northern part and the oil leakage in Mauritian waters among others,” said Mkaka.
The 2020 Sadc summit is happening under the theme 40 Years Building Peace and Security and Promoting Development and Resilience in the Face of Global Challenges.