Southern Times Writer
Lilongwe – SADC Heads of State and Government meet in Lilongwe, Malawi on August 17-18, 2021 to – among other things – choose a new Executive Secretary to steer the bloc’s administrative agenda for the next four years.
The 41st SADC Summit is themed “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation”.
The preceding meetings building up to the Heads of State and Government indaba started this week, with officials from Mozambique progressively handing over key portfolios to their Malawian counterparts. This process will culminate in Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi formally handing over the SADC Chairmanship to Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera at the leaders’ Summit.
It is at that Summit that regional leaders will decide who will succeed Dr Stergomena Tax of Tanzania as SADC Executive Secretary. Dr Tax became the region’s top civil servant at the 2013 Summit, incidentally also hosted by Malawi, and she completes her second and final four-year term this weekend.
The two contenders for the post are Botswana Secretary in the Presidency and Head of the Civil Service Mr Elias Magosi, and the DRC’s Professor Faustin Mukela, who is a senior official at the World Trade Organisation.
This week, Mozambican Director for Regional and Continental Integration, Ambassador Carlos Manuel Carlos Rodrigues Da Costa, handed over the Chairpersonship of Standing Committee of Senior Official to Malawian Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Dr Luckie Sikwese.
Thursday’s programme was dominated by the SADC Public Lecture, themed “Promoting Digitalisation for Revival of SADC Industrialisation Agenda in the COVID era”, while August 13-14 were reserved for the Meeting of the Standing Committee of Senior Officials and Finance Committee Meetings.
The Council of Ministers meets on August 16, after which Heads of State and Government convene.
Besides the bureaucratic and administrative considerations on the agenda, regional leaders will be seized with matters of peace and security, primarily as regards the situation in the DRC, eSwatini, Lesotho and Mozambique, where SADC is undertaking varying levels of involvement in crisis resolution.
As per the Summit theme, leaders will explore ways of accelerating implementation of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030, in particular, the Industrialisation and Market Integration pillar.
Vision 2050 will provide much of the overarching context for discussions on economic and social development.