Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the 41st Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Ordinary Heads of State and Government Summit that Malawi is hosting, will use a hybrid format combining physical and virtual platforms due to prevalence of Covid-19.
In an interview yesterday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Rejoice Shumba said the arrangement has been necessitated by concerns amid rising cases of Covid-19 in the country and the Sadc region at large.
“Some delegates will attend physically while others will follow the proceedings virtually. All Covid-19 restrictions will be observed for those attending physically,” she said.
Shumba said all is set for the summit scheduled to take place in Lilongwe from August 9 to 18.
She said the Sadc Council of Ministers has already approved that it be held in hybrid format.
Said Shumba: “In this regard, Malawi is in the process of putting in place ICT equipment to accommodate delegates that will attend both physically and virtually.”
Last week, a Sadc technical team arrived in the country to inspect the planned venue, the Bingu International Convention Centre and some hotels in Lilongwe, among other activities.
Shumba said: “They inspected the summit’s venue, hotels and ministerial meeting places. At the end of the assessment, the team expressed satisfaction with the state of Malawi’s preparedness.
“ The team also encouraged Malawi to strengthen some areas and measures, point in mention, Covid-19 related. So far, the ministerial committee has approved with amendments the budget by technical subcommittees.”
However, she said the number of delegates to the meeting is yet to be confirmed because it is the Sadc Secretariat in Gaberone, Botswana sending out invitations.
Shumba said the incumbent Sadc chairperson and Mozambique President Felipe Nyusi will also send invitations to Heads of State and Government.
During the meeting, President Lazarus Chakwera will assume the chairmanship of the 16-member bloc for 12 months.
In an earlier interview, director of information Chikumbutso Mtumodzi said government projects that 30 percent of foreign delegates will not physically attend the meeting due to Covid-19 regulations.
“The summit will be 70 percent physical and 30 percent virtual. In short, it will be a hybrid in which about 50 or 70 percent of the expected delegates will physically attend.”
Malawi first hosted the Sadc Heads of State and Government Ordinary Summit in August 1997 and last did in August 2013.