President Hage Geingob has said peace and security remain the hallmark of any country, developing or developed. “It is the bedrock on which all our collective efforts towards industrialisation and regional integration can find its true expression,” he stated in a speech delivered on his behalf by Vice President Nangolo Mbumba yesterday at the 41st SADC Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera took over as chairperson of SADC. He got the baton from Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, who had assumed the chairmanship of SADC in August last year. SADC has in recent months been beset with security challenges. The regional bloc recently launched its Alert Force Mission to combat terrorism in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado. SADC member states are contributing troops, military experts and funds to battle the insurgency.
The gas-rich Cabo Delgado province has been plagued by terrorism since 2017, leading to the deaths of thousands and the displacement of some 800 000 people. Both Eswatini and South Africa recently also struggled with mass demonstrations and looting. In Eswatini, media have reported that around 70 pro-democracy protesters have died and more than 600 people have been arrested in the past few months.
In July, looters and protesters left a N$50 billion trail of destruction in their wake after the arrest of former South African president Jacob Zuma for contempt of court. Geingob told the regional bloc’s leadership that coupled with peace and security is the need to ensure national and social inclusion.
“The establishment of institutions and mechanisms to empower, equip and upskill our youth cannot be over-emphasised, as our youth represent about 60% of our populations, and their inclusion in national development programmes is crucial for the stability of our region,” he added.
Geingob said as incoming chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Namibia stands ready to work with South Africa and Botswana, and all member states, to ensure the continued stability, peace and security of the region.
He also used the opportunity to extend, on behalf of Namibia, congratulations to Zambia for what he termed peaceful elections, and for outgoing president Edgar Lungu’s acceptance of the outcome.
Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema defeated Lungu by a landslide with over a million votes.
Furthermore, Geingob said the Covid-19 pandemic has put a strain on employment and business opportunities for most of the region’s populations, which has negatively affected their spiritual, physical, mental and social wellbeing, a situation that he said needs careful balancing by governments.
He reasoned that the situation also requires the involvement of all stakeholders, including churches, the private sector, nation-building civil societies and NGOs, the media and academia.
The region’s research and science institutions would likewise play a big role in fostering home-grown solutions to address the negative effects of Covid-19.
“The systems and processes of good governance and the rule of law reinforces the stability of our region. We must, therefore, harness the progress made in this area in order to continue to consolidate democratic gains in our region to enable us to address the developmental challenges facing our people,” Geingob said.