By Oleen Ndori
THE ordinary meeting of the SADC Council of Ministers has opened in Malawi with discussions centred on enhancing regional cooperation, integration and economic development.
As the region pushes forward in the new normal within the confines of the COVID-19 pandemic, SADC Executive Secretary, Mr Elias Magosi applauded member states for the progress made during the 2021/2022 financial year as well as the successful implementation of 75 per cent of the targeted projects under the Annual Corporate Plan.
“|Notable progress has been recorded in several areas during the period under review and these include the entering into force of the Protocol on Trade in Services on 13th January 2022, signing of the Inter-Governmental Memorandum of Agreement (IGMoA) for the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) by 10 Member States as of December 2021: Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Ratification of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) by six SADC Member States: Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. To date, twenty-two Tripartite Member/Partner States have signed the Tripartite FTA Agreement with a total of eleven Member/Partner States ratifying the Agreement, namely: Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe and the deployment of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) in July 2021, and the extended mandate, which is showing positive results, with the security situation in Cabo Delgado improving, resulting in some of the internally displaced persons returning to their homes and resume normal lives,” explained Magosi.
The Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers and Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Nancy Tembo appealed for the urgent operationalisation of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre in the face of increasing natural disasters within the region.
“The region is facing a variety and increasing frequency of natural disasters that threaten to further undermine its growth and prosperity. The Region is extremely vulnerable, particularly to floods and droughts. Not only are these extreme weather events and other natural hazards increasing in number and intensity, but there is also limited resilience built into the Region’s construct. Recently, we have witnessed the devastation caused by tropical cyclones including Ana, Batsirai and Emnati. These have resulted in the loss of life, destruction of infrastructure and creation of humanitarian crisis in the affected Member States. This is why we have to fast-track the operationalisation of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre. During this meeting, we will consider the Memorandum of Agreement for the operationalisation of the Centre. At the onset, I wish to encourage all Member States that, once we have approved this Memorandum of Agreement, we should move with speed to sign it, to enable the Centre to be fully operational without any further delay,” he said.
The two-day meeting also deliberated on the entering into force of the Protocol on Trade in Services on the 13th of January this year, the COVID-19 vaccination drive across the region and issues of peace and security affecting SADC.