Windhoek - SADC made history this week by hosting the Council of Ministers’ meeting via an unprecedented video-conference.
The Council of Ministers is a vital function for the regional body as it oversees the functioning and development of SADC, and ensures that policies and decisions are implemented.
Usually, ministers from 16 member states, who are responsible for Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Economic Planning or Finance, meets twice a year in March, and August but on Wednesday it was business as unusual as the major meeting was held via a video-conference technology for the first time due to rapid spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), which has had significant impacts globally.
SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax, said the swift response by member states to the video-conference was commendable, and was a demonstration of SADC readiness to manage emergencies and disasters.
The Council of Ministers meeting was held via a video-conference on the advice of the SADC ministers of health, who met on 9 March 2020 to map a regional response to Covid-19.
The meeting shared information and measures taken at national level, and deliberated on how to cooperate at regional level.
SADC has a protocol on health, which says member states should promote, coordinate and support individual and collective efforts of state parties to attain an acceptable standard of health for all people.
Among others, member states agreed to re-activate the Technical Committee for Coordinating and Monitoring the Implementation of the SADC Protocol on Health, and to expand its terms of reference, to assess and advice on health, social, economic and immigration matters. Dr Tax urged the Technical Committee to expeditiously and continuously provide the needed advice on this very urgent matter.
“May I extend our gratitude to the government of Tanzania, for taking urgent measures that have enabled us to have this video-conference for this important regional meeting. The SADC Secretariat is very grateful to all member states for the support provided during the preparations for this meeting,” she said.
She then commended SADC member states for the rigorous measures taken in response to this global pandemic.
“We call upon all citizens of the region to abide by the measures pronounced by our respective leaders, and play our part. Our efforts to combat COVID-19 will only succeed if everyone plays their part.”