The establishment of the Southern African Development Community Regional Counter Terrorism Centre (SADC RCTC) could not have come at a more opportune moment to ensure that there is a dedicated structure to coordinate regional counter-terrorism efforts, Honourable Machana Ronald Shamukuni, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development of the Republic of Botswana, has said.
Hon. Min. Shamukuni expressed this at the launch of SADC RCTC on behalf of the Chairperson of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ, and the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Hon. Minister Dr Naledi Pandor, in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, on 28th February 2022.
"Strong and sustained multilateral cooperation, understanding, and analysis are required in order to support Member States in addressing the challenges posed by terrorism, violent extremism and its associated Transnational Organised Crime activities," he said.
The launch of the SADC RCTC comes at a time the Region, through the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) is in the middle of fighting terrorism and violent extremism in Cabo Delgado, Northern Mozambique.
Hon. Min Shamukuni underscored that close collaboration between the RCTC, the National Counter-Terrorism Centres (NCTCs) in SADC Member States and International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) is at the heart of a successful implementation of the Regional Counter Terrorism Strategy and its Action Plan to minimise the risk posed by terrorist groups.
He commended ICPs such as the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) for the continued collaboration and partnership in the fight against terrorism by supporting activities outlined in the Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy and its Action Plan in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
Honourable Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, Minister of Defence of the United Republic of Tanzania, highlighted that SADC RCTC is important for Member States in strengthening cooperation in the control and fight against terrorist acts, including the exchange of experiences at the African region and international levels through the collection, analysis, information exchange and training.
Dr Tax also stressed that the effects of terrorist acts have serious economic, social and security implications for innocent civilians. She underlined that the establishment of the centre will enable SADC to work more efficiently and effectively in the fight against terrorism.
SADC Executive Secretary, His Excellency, Mr Elias Mpedi Magosi, underlined that the RCTC will play a catalytic role in advising on counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism policies and programmes; coordinate the implementation of the SADC Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and Research, analyse and disseminate information to NCTCs and other relevant stakeholders, including regional, and international partners.
"While significant progress has been made in the implementation of the SADC Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy, there is still a need for the adoption of counter-terrorism measures, taking into consideration the current security landscape and emerging threats," the Executive Secretary said.
He further stressed that those measures include comprehensive legislation and policies; accelerated formulation of National Counter-Terrorism Strategies and Plans of Action; strengthening of NCTCs and Financial Intelligence Units; strengthening criminal justice systems through capacity building and training to effectively detect, prevent, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate terrorism-related offences; and building the capacity to counter the spread of radicalisation through social media and the internet.
During the launch, Hon. Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania and H.E Magosi signed the RCTC Host Agreement.
SADC Heads of State and Government during the August 2015 Summit held in Gaborone, Republic of Botswana, adopted the Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy and its Plan of Action aimed at preventing and countering terrorism, as well as enhancing cooperation and coordination. The Summit also noted the need for a regional counter-terrorism coordinating body to facilitate regional, continental and international co-operation in combatting terrorism.
The RCTC was established to ensure enhanced coordination, strengthened partnerships, as well as to foster timely response to terrorism and violent extremism within the SADC Region.
The ceremony was also attended by Ms Candith Mashego Dlamini, Hon. Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Hon. Jennelly Matundu, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of Namibia, SADC Ambassadors accredited to the United Republic of Tanzania, representatives of ICPs, Heads of National Counter Terrorism/Coordination Centres from Member States and Chiefs of Defence and Security Sectors.