Zvamaida Murwira and Elliot Ziwira
The SADC region remains stable and peaceful despite a few security challenges and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives, the Sadc chairman of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President Mnangagwa, has said.
But there was need to explore innovative ways of ensuring that member states were able to conduct credible elections during the Covid-19 pandemic, one of whose preventive measures was to avoid crowds and gatherings.
Officially opening the virtual Troika summit, President Mnangagwa commended member states for consistently demonstrating commitment to strengthening democracy, constitutionalism and the rule of law.
“I note with satisfaction that, notwithstanding a few political and security challenges and the ongoing pandemic, our region remains stable,” said President Mnangagwa.
Other members of the SADC Organ Troika are Botswana President Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi, the incoming chairperson, and Zambian President Edgar Lungu.
Zimbabwe will remain a member as Botswana takes over as the immediate-past chair.
SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax attended the meeting.
In his address, President Mnangagwa said while elections held in the region satisfied SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, there was need to explore innovative ways to hold credible elections during pandemics such as Covid-19.
“It is equally important to ensure the safe and efficient deployment of SADC Election Observation Missions during such difficult conditions. Our organisation must also pursue sustainable and predictable means of funding election observer missions,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said as part of SADC’s liberation war heritage and historical legacy, the regional bloc was set to consider mechanisms of honouring its founding fathers as recommended by the Ministerial Committee of the Organ.
“In recognition of the contribution made by the founding fathers to the liberation of our region, it is my fervent hope that this mechanism will go a long way in inculcating a sense of patriotism, self-love and belonging among the peoples of our region, in particular the youths,” said President Mnangagwa.
After the opening address, the Troika Summit went into a closed-door discussion where it received reports from the Council of Ministers.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attended yesterday’s meeting as SADC facilitator to the Kingdom of Lesotho which was represented by its Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro.
In their closing remarks, Dr Masisi and Dr Lungu commended President Mnangagwa for steering the Organ well during his tenure.
Dr Masisi said as incoming chairperson, he had a lot to learn from President Mnangagwa’s leadership that he demonstrated during his one year tenure.
In his last remarks, President Mnangagwa said the consolidation of democracy in the SADC region through holding of regular elections was commendable.
“I wish to urge the SADC secretariat to work closely with the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Seychelles and other countries that will be holding elections during the Covid-19 pandemic towards safe and peaceful electoral processes,” he said.
Earlier on, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo chaired a virtual meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ where reports and recommendations were tabled for the consideration of the 40th SADC summit of Heads of State and Government to be held on Monday.
Dr Moyo was joined by his Zambian and Botswana counterparts, Mr Joseph Malanji and Dr Unity Dow.