President Hage Geingob has called on fellow leaders within SADC, particularly the region’s organ on politics, defence and security cooperation to take decisive action in addressing issues of insecurity in the region.
The region has been rocked by a number of political unrests, with recent crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations in neighbouring Zimbabwe enjoying condemnation from civil society and opposition groupings.
“I, therefore, underscore the need for SADC, and in particular the organ on politics, defence and security cooperation to take decisive action in addressing insecurity in our region.
"Without peace, development does not take place,” said Geingob during the 40th SADC ordinary summit through a virtual platform.
In Zimbabwe, there has been a renewed assault on human rights, including the right to freedom of expression in recent months, especially targeting journalists, activists and human rights defenders who have spoken out against alleged corruption and called for peaceful protests.
In Madagascar, former communication minister Harry Laurent Rahajason was detained on 16 July on charges of undermining state security after he was arrested for organising and funding a protest against the abuse of pre-trial detention in the country.
eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) has also been hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons after police detained journalist and editor of the Swati Newsdesk Online Eugen Dube for seven hours on 23 April.
The detention followed the publication of an article in which Eugen criticised King Mswati III for not putting in place social distancing measures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, describing the strategy as “reckless”.
SADC and the African Union have also been implored to urgently assist Mozambique to stem the violent insurgency in Cabo Delgado province.
The summit saw the handing over of SADC chairmanship from Tanzanian President John Magufuli to his Mozambican counterpart Filipe Nyusi.
Geingob said the pillars of industrial development and market integration, infrastructure development – and importantly, social and human capital development will not become a reality in the absence of a foundation of peace and security in the region.
“The commendable progress we have made over the past four decades should not be derailed. They should be consolidated. We have an obligation to strengthen effective governance, to promote the rule of law and to harness political systems where conflicts and political differences are mediated through robust processes, systems and institutions,” he said.
Geingob said the region boasts an active young population where two-thirds of the citizens are below the age of 35.
This active portion of the region’s populations, Geingob said, needs to be nurtured to realise its full potential.
“If we fail to do so, we risk social exclusion 3 and the radicalisation of our youth, placing in jeopardy the positive gains we have made as a region,” he said.
“We have put in place robust and reliable governance architectures, which are characterised by sound systems, processes and institutions.”
Geingob says the fourth industrial revolution reminds the region with urgency that leaders must empower the region’s youth with technological, vocational and technical skills to build their livelihoods and create jobs.
“We have just considered the region’s vision 2050, which projects that by the next 30 years, our region will be a peaceful, inclusive, middle to high-income industrialised region, where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic wellbeing, justice and freedom,” he said.
Meanwhile, touching on Covid-19, Geingob said Namibia has not been spared the rod, as thousands have lost jobs due to the pandemic.
“Namibia, like other countries, has experienced job losses as a result of the pandemic. However, there are opportunities to re-skill and up-skill our people to leverage the prospects that come from new technology,” he said.
He said SADC must, therefore, continue to cooperate and explore new strategies to revive economies.
“We must remain resolute and emerge from this pandemic better equipped and prepared to deal with any future threats. Our unity and the pursuit of regional integration must remain at the forefront of our actions in order to build a stronger and more prosperous region,” he said.
Geingob was also pleased to note that the region adopted SADC guidelines to ensure the continued transportation of all goods, products and services in the region, as well as in the tripartite area of SADC, COMESA and EAC amid the pandemic.