By TZ Business News Staff.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania has appealed to nations in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to face rich nations as one single voice asking for debt forgiveness to help countries in the region deal with the economic pushback brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Samia made the call in Lilongwe, Malawi Tuesday, August 17, 2021 when she addressed a two-day summit of the SADC region heads of State and Government.
“Honorable Heads of State and Government, as you know this summit is taking place in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic…. The need for vaccines is great,” the President said. “We need to increase effort toward acquisition of vaccines and to persuade companies producing vaccines to give permits and technology which can enable production of vaccines in other parts of the world in order to meet the demand.
“Our countries need to continue to co-operate not only in the production of vaccines, but also in medicines and medical equipment as explained by Sister Vera Songwe [Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa] in her speech.”
The Tanzania President said Covid-19 has negatively affected economies as shown by year 2020 statistics. This, she added, has made it difficult for many poor countries to pay their external debts. “In this regard therefore, we need to co-operate and to be one voice in asking rich nations and international financial institutions to continue giving debt relief to developing nations–or to defer payments to a later date until the Covid-19 pandemic has stopped.”
The President told SADC Heads of State and Government it was equally important to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive because they have also been affected.
The President reaffirmed Tanzania’s commitment to be a faithful member of SADC, adding that it was important that the region is not satisfied with the few achievements SADC has made since its formation, but to continue struggling to build this region’s economy.
“Tanzania is one of the founding members of this Community,” she said. “We participated in its formation, therefore we know its importance as well as its benefits. In this regard, the Tanzania you have always known will continue to be co-operative and dependable in our Community”
The President identified areas of success since formation of SADC in 1980 as relative peace in the region, and the growth of intra-regional business but cautioned that there were many challenges still needing the region’s attention, which include the persisting poverty, a slow pace of economic growth, the problem of unemployment, disease, the problem of climate change, presence of security threats which include terrorism, weapons proliferation and international crime.
“The responsibility to deal with these challenges is not anyone else’s; it is ours who have been given the mandate to lead in partnership with our people,” The President said. “Therefore we must co-operate.”
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Addressing the Summit earlier in an opening address, the SADC incoming Chairperson, His Excellency Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, said in order to maintain peace and security in the region “beyond remedial efforts to end pockets of conflict”, there is need to sustain democratic norms, the protection of human rights, and the strengthening of governance institutions.
“These are the soils in which the seeds of peace and security flourish. For this reason, the pattern of peaceful transitions of power we have seen in our region in recent years, the Republic of Zambia being the latest member, are worthy of global acclaim and our applause,” he said.
SADC is 16 Member States organization established in 1980 as the Southern African Development Coordinating Conference (SADCC) and later in August,1992 transformed into the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The mission of SADC is to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient, productive systems, deeper cooperation and integration, good governance and durable peace and security; so that the region emerges as a competitive and effective player in international relations and the world economy.
Member States include Angola, Botswana, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The leadership is rotational changing hands after one year tenure. The new chairman hosts a Summit at the beginning of tenure.
President Chakwera said one of the major threats to SADC regional integration agenda that member states must collectively be vigilant against is regional insecurity.
Turning to Covid-19, he said the pandemic has either stalled or reversed the progress SADC member states had made in the regional integration agenda, “gains that took years and sweat to achieve, we gather here with a shared sense of urgency to revitalize our economies”.
“We must redouble our efforts in the areas where we can register quick gains. Chief among them is the fostering of an environment for the creation of jobs for young people across the region, which we must do as a matter of urgency. Our convergence here must result in revitalized trade across our borders, enhanced industrial production within our borders, and accelerated recovery of key sectors like tourism in the wake of the pandemic.
“The revival of our economies depends on our collective ability to dispose of this existential threat. It is therefore imperative that we keep up and step up the efforts we are making as SADC to comply with the guidelines we already have for stopping this pandemic in its tracks,” President Chakwera said, noting that the Summit is precisely the occasion to which they must rise and come up with lasting solutions to Covid-19. One such solution, he said, is the successful rollout of a region-wide vaccination program.
The 2021 Summit theme was “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation”.
The Theme seeks to accelerate the implementation of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020–2030, in particular, the Industrialization and Market Integration pillar. His Excellency Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi takes over the chairpersonship of SADC from His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique who assumed the chairpersonship of SADC on 17th August, 2020 during the 40th SADC Summit.
The Summit was designed to take stock of progress made in promoting and deepening Regional Integration in line with SADC’s aspirations as espoused in the RISDP 2020–2030 and Vision 2050, which envisage a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle- to high-income industrialized Region where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic well-being, justice, and freedom.