SANF 22 no 09 – by Clarkson Mambo
The SADC Council of Ministers meets this week in Lilongwe, Malawi to discuss progress towards regional integration and sustainable development.
The Council meeting on 18-19 March will consider the status of implementation of key decisions made by the 41st SADC Summit held in August 2021, as well as the previous SADC Council meeting.
The 41st Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government approved a number of initiatives aimed at driving socio-economic development by deepening integration through industrialisation and ensuring the maintenance of peace and security in the region.
One such decision was the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament which will be a consultative and deliberative body.
The leaders agreed to operationalize the SADC Regional Counter Terrorism Centre that will be hosted by the United Republic of Tanzania and dedicated to countering potential acts of terrorism in southern Africa. They also approved measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this regard, at the top of the agenda for the SADC Council will be how the region can intensify its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including strengthening national campaigns by Member States to mobilize citizens to get vaccinated against the virus.
There has been a low uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines in some Member States due to various factors including misinformation about the vaccine.
Discussions are also expected to focus on how the region could invest more resources in improving public health systems, as well as the need for SADC Member States to continue enforcing anti-coronavirus regulations such as social distancing and regular health screening, as the region begins to relax some of the restrictive measures.
On disaster risk reduction, the Council is set to receive a progress report on the establishment of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC).
Based in the Nampula province of Mozambique, the SHOC will coordinate regional humanitarian efforts on natural disasters which are increasing and affecting all Member States.
The SADC Committee of Ministers of Justice/Attorneys General that met on 25 January approved and recommended that the Draft Memorandum of Agreement for the Establishment of the SHOC should be adopted.
Therefore, the Council will consider the Draft Memorandum of Agreement for the Establishment of the SHOC. Once adopted, the Council will be forward the Agreement to the 42nd Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government for approval.
On the agricultural front, the SADC Council will consider the situation of food and nutrition security in the region.
According to the 2021 Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa, the region had a cereal deficit following a subdued farming season.
In this regard, the meeting is expected to consider measures to address and strengthen food and nutrition security in the region.
These measures may include assistance to affected populations with food supplies as well as providing supplementary feeding on an emergency basis to save livestock.
Some Member States with acute shortages may be assisted to import grain to supplement their reduced yields.
On peace and security, the meeting will consider and review the security situation in the region.
The SADC region has generally enjoyed stability despite some pockets of volatility, as seen currently in northern Mozambique and eastern DRC.
In northern Mozambique, SADC has already deployed the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) and notable progress has been made to address the conflict since its deployment in July 2021.
Related to this, SADC has already launched the regional centre to counter potential acts of terrorism in southern Africa, as agreed last year at the 41st SADC Summit.
The SADC Regional Counter Terrorism Centre (RCTC) was launched on 28 February, based in Dar es Salam, Tanzania and will have responsibility of early warning and knowledge of the terrorism threat to ensure that the region remains peaceful and stable, allowing SADC to achieve its longstanding goals of a united, integrated and prosperous community.
Another priority issue is the status of implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063), and Council will review progress.
The region has pursued activities in recent years to roll out the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, which provides a framework for major economic and technological transformation at national and regional levels, within the context of deepening integration.
The activities include the development of value chains linked to the three priority sectors of agro-processing, mineral beneficiation and pharmaceuticals.
The theme of the 41st SADC Summit held in Malawi last year continues with the industrialization trajectory of the region — “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic, for Inclusive, Sustainable Economic and Industrial Transformation”.
The SADC Council of Ministers is expected to consider the Annual Performance Report of the SADC Secretariat covering the period 2021/2022.
The new SADC Executive Secretary, Elias Mpedi Magosi will deliver his first report to the Council since assuming office on 1 September 2021.
The SADC Council consists of Ministers from each Member State, usually from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Economic Planning, or Finance, and the current chair is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malawi, Hon. Nancy Tembo.
The Council of Ministers meets twice a year in February/March and immediately prior to the Summit in August to oversee the functioning and development of SADC and ensure that policies and decisions are implemented. sardc.net
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