The Southern Africa People’s Solidarity Network (Sapsn), is gearing to host a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) People’s Summit next month with fellow regional civil society organisations (CSOs) in Lilongwe.
The local task force led by Malawian CSOs, will hold a series of events during the forthcoming Sadc Summit, including presentation to heads of States of a petition for issues affecting citizens.
Malawi is slated to host the Sadc Summit on 17 and 18 August where president Lazarus Chakwera will assume the chairmanship while the People’s Summit will run from 17 to 27 August.
Sapsn national task force chairperson Leon Matanda said in an interview on Friday, that among other issues, the CSOs will tackle Covid-19, cross-border trade, agriculture, taxation, regional integration initiatives, regional conflicts, governance and the economy.
He said they have been providing information to ministerial committees in Sadc ensuring the secretariat is informed about the issues.
Said Matanda: “We have a consolidated knowledge and expertise at national and regional level, we have people who have done research on various topics shared with the Sadc Secretariat to inform formulation of policies.
“Having our head of State as Sadc chairperson, gives us an upper advantage to directly push for action on issues such as health, education, taxation and mining.”
Sapsn Malawi focal person Mike Banda from Malawi Economic Justice Network, which is coordinating the People’s Summit, said preparations are progressing well and they expect 100 delegates to attend physically while the rest will attend virtually.
He said there will be a lot of discussions and selected thematic areas such as peace and security in Mozambique.
“Our budget is at K50 million and we are working to mobilise the resources to successfully host the people’s summit,” said Banda.
Cross-Border Traders Association board member Lucy Kanjira said they are looking to participating in the discussions.
She mentioned high taxes, poor infrastructure facilities at the borders, including the need to remove R3 000 (about K186 000) requirement when travelling to South Africa for business purposes.
Dubbed the Festival of the Poor, the People’s Summit will dedicate time for engagements, lobbying and advocacy efforts aimed at pressing Sadc leaders to solve the suffering of a common person on the ground.