SADC Council of Ministers deliberate on the current situations in the region
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers met on 12 to 13 March to discuss the current COVID-19 situation within the region.
The delegation also discussed the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a Parliament, the establishment of the Committee of SADC Ambassadors and the consideration of policies and frameworks at address natural disasters in the region.
Ambassador Jerobeam Shaanika, Acting Head of the Department of Multilateral Relations and Cooperation said during the meeting, they approved the SADC Secretariat’s Annual Corporate Plan and Budget for the 2020/2021 Financial Year to deliver the outcomes based on the priorities of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plant (RISDP) 2020-2030 and SADC Vision 2050.
He said the Council directed the Expanded Technical Committee for Coordinating and Monitoring the Implementation of the SADC Protocol on Health to continue monitoring the COVID-19 situation and provide timely advice and to analyse the current Covid-19 situation in the African context and provide home-grown solutions.
“We also approved the proposal by Mozambique to hold the face to face meeting of the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in May or June 2021 to consider its detailed agenda, if the Covid-19 situation is contained,” he added.
He stated that Council urged Member States to comply with the Guidelines, especially with respect to mutual recognition by Member States of Covid-19 test results and validity period of 0-14 days as stipulated in the Guidelines, following the adoption of the guidelines on the Harmonisation and Facilitation of Cross Border Transport Operations Across the SADC Region During COVID-19 pandemic.
“Council endorsed the offer made by the Republic of Mozambique to host the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC) which will be responsible for facilitating enhanced regional disaster risks preparedness, response and early recovery to support Member States affected by disasters,” he added.
In relations to the SHOC, Shaanika said Council noted that the draft SHOC and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat and the SHOC, and a draft charter to establish SHOC have been developed and directed the Secretariat to work with the Government of Mozambique to operationalise the SHOC 2.
He further stated that on the regional and continental integration, Council noted the status of the signing and ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA)
“We therefore urge Member States who have not signed or ratified AfCFTA and TFTA to do so to allow for the implementation of the agreement, because the ratification of the TFTA Agreement is critical as it will pave the way for the successful implementation of the AfCFTA,” explained Shaanika.
He said they also endorsed the proposal to extend Kiswahili as a working language through interpretation at SADC Ministerial Committee meeting.