President Lazarus Chakwera yesterday closed the 41st Sadc Heads of State and Government Summit with an appeal to leaders to commit to enhancing regional integration by implementing plans to establish a regional central bank and parliament.
In their communiqué at the end of the two-day summit held in Lilongwe under the theme Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of Covid-19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation, the leaders also called for enhanced fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and terrorism in the 16-member regional bloc.
The communiqué also reaffirmed the commitment to establish a central bank and a monetary union as well as turning the Sadc Parliamentary Forum into a fully-fledged Parliament.
It reads in part: “Summit reaffirmed Sadc’s position that the creation of the Sadc Central Bank and Monetary Union, as a long-term objective to be premised on fulfilling preconditions that include the harmonisation of the fiscal and monetary policies of Sadc countries and greater convergence of banking systems.
“In this regard, the African Monetary Institute and the African Central Bank should be long-term objectives.”
In his statement at the end of the summit as new Sadc chairperson, Chakwera said time had come for the region to rebuild and harness potential for productivity.
He said: “Now is the time for us to fully unleash our people’s entrepreneurial capabilities. Now is the time for us to set up production linkages for achieving structural and industrial transformation. Now is the time for us to turn the Sadc we want into the Sadc we enjoy.
“Clearly, the kind of socio-economic transformation we envision cannot be achieved without industrialisation.”
Chakwera also mentioned value addition and diversification from raw materials as key to implementing the Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
The summit also officially swore in new Sadc executive secretary Elias Mpedi Magosi of Botswana who replaced Tanzanian Stergomena Lawrence Tax.
But reacting to the proposed Sadc parliament and central bank, international relations expert Eddie Kalonga described both projects as ambitious.
He said they may also take a long time to become a reality and would prove difficult to implement.
Kalonga said: “These two ambitious projects are critical for the bloc. It’s part of alignment to the Agenda 2063 of the AU [African Union] which is a blueprint for creation of borderless Africa.
“It needs serious and committed political will. Looking at the international.” politics arena, it will require a lot of time to make this dream a reality. There are questions of sovereignty; finding the right modalities will not be easy
In a separate interview, University of Malawi economics professor Ben Kaluwa said while the plan to create a central bank for the bloc was good for the region, it would be difficult to implement.
He said: “They have been talking about currency convergence for a long time; this step appears to be a move towards monetary union. Creation of the bank doesn’t have to be a physical building. The central bank can be diffused.
“ Key issues we must grapple with is the divergence in the per formance of the currencies, Zambia had a weak currency, but today is one of the strongest. The litmus test will be to line up all these currencies and compare their value to the US dollar and come up with a currency union.”
On security, the summit endorsed an action plan for the implementation of the Security Threats Report.
The summit, according to the communiqué, also received a briefing on the security situation in Cabo Delgado Province in the northern part of Mozambique. The meeting also resolved to establish a Regional Counter Terrorism Centre to be based in Tanzania