Southern Africa faced a challenging 2020/2021 period but the region continues to make significant strides in ensuring peace and security, which are the cornerstones for its ultimate objective of attaining deeper regional integration and socio-economic development.
To ensure the region effectively deals with security threats, SADC’s Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO), meeting in Lilongwe, Malawi, has unanimously agreed to move with speed in the implementation of the Regional Counter Terrorism Strategy and its Action Plan as well as recommendations of the Security Threats Assessment Report.
The COVID-19 pandemic, terrorism and cybercrime presented new challenges for the region in the past year, the outgoing chairperson of the MCO, the Minister of International Affairs and Co-operation for Botswana, Dr Lemogang Kwape said at its August 16 meeting.
“We all acknowledged that the year 2020/2021 was a challenging one. The usual vulnerabilities and external shocks that SADC had become accustomed to were further compounded by a number of emerging threats, such as terrorism, radical extremism, cybercrime and the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
“We have also agreed that for SADC to continue to effectively deal with these security threats, it is important that we stay true to our decisions and hasten implementation.”
Dr Kwape said the recent deployment of the SADC Mission to Mozambique in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism in some parts of Cabo Delgado province was one of the major decisions the region made in the past year.
SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax presented the instruments of authority for deployment of the SADC Standby Force to Mozambique on 16 July 2021, marking a significant step in the regional effort to combat terrorism and violent extremism in the northern part of Cabo Delgado.
This was done almost a month after the deployment was approved by the SADC Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Mozambique.
The regional group also intervened to restore order in Eswatini after the Kingdom experienced unrest in July that resulted in the destruction of property, and the situation has returned to normal.
“We have come a long way and we have achieved quite a lot together, as a collective,” Dr Kwape said.
The Organ is set to present the draft Costed Action Plan for the implementation of the Report on the Assessment of Security Threats in the region for approval by Heads of State at Government at the Summit.
The MCO noted that SADC Members States had in the past year religiously continued to consolidate democracy, even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the United Republic of Tanzania, the Republic of Seychelles and the Republic of Zambia having held elections.
The recently approved SADC Guidelines for Election Observation under Public Health Emergencies are expected to facilitate a safe environment for the region to further enhance its democratic credentials.
“It is safe to say that we are doing quite well as SADC, in the areas of political stability, as well as peace and security,” said Dr Kwape.
“We will all agree that these are a sine qua non for regional integration and socio-economic development. What remains important is to not let our guards down. We need to redouble our efforts towards ensuring that this region remains peaceful, stable and prosperous.”
The meeting was attended by the other two members of the MCO Troika – the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation of South Africa, Dr Naledi Pandor, who is the Incoming Chair of the MCO, as well as Dr Frederick Shava, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the Republic of Zimbabwe, who chaired the MCO before Botswana and therefore served as Outgoing Chair for the past year. – sardc.net