Steering the SADC ship through turbulent waters

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Southern Times Writer 

Windhoek - When President Hage Geingob assumed the Chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community in 2018, he took on the enormous task of leading a region battling with various political, security and economic challenges.

And when he handed over the Chairmanship a year later, he was roundly lauded for his decisive, intuitive and visionary leadership.

Namibia’s President Geingob became Chairperson of the regional bloc on August 17, 2018 during the 38th SADC Summit of Heads of States and Government that was held in Windhoek.

This was at a time that the Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho and Mozambique were all experiencing some form of political turbulence.

Economic crises in several member states were also quite high, with Tanzania essentially the only country in the region that was experiencing growth in the region of the seven percent range targeted by SADC.

As part of his quest to nurture democratic values and constitutionality in the region, President Geingob oversaw peaceful elections in six member states during his tenure.

These were in the Comoros, the DRC, Eswatini, Madagascar, Malawi and South Africa.

“For the first time since independence, we have witnessed a peaceful transfer of power in the DRC, marking a new era for socio-economic prosperity, peace, and political stability for the country. Indeed, democracy has continued to mature in our region,” President Geingob said in 2019 as he rounded up his Chairmanship.

The DRC elections were quite a milestone, considering that in 60 years there had not been a peaceful transfer of power.

In addition to this achievement, under President Geingob’s tenure SADC witnessed the signing of the Peace Accord Mozambique, which brought an end to a war between insurgents and government forces.

On the economic and social fronts, President Geingob had to steer the SADC ship at a time of global uncertainties as regards commodity markets, trade tensions, food insecurity and natural calamities.

Contingency funds amounting to US$500,000 were released towards emergency relief efforts for Tropical Cyclone Idai to complement the humanitarian and disaster management initiatives of individual member states’ and other international partners.

Post-disaster needs assessments were conducted in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe for reconstruction and rebuilding following Tropical Cyclone Idai.

Despite the achievements, President Geingob did not sit back and bask in the glory, and instead chose to focus on the many things that still needed doing for the region to holistically implement its Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Plan and Strategic Indicative Plan.

“It is, therefore, incumbent upon all SADC member states, to fully take advantage of low hanging fruit and leverage the capacity of the private sector, women and youth, in order to tap into their potential to support our developmental agenda,” he said as he rallied the region to build on its potential and grow from strength to strength.

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