His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana, and Outgoing Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation presented letters of appointment to the members of the SADC Panel of Elders and the Mediation Reference Group on 28 February 2022, in Gaborone, Botswana.
The SADC Panel of Elders (PoE) and Mediation Reference Group (MRG) received their appointment letters after attending an induction meeting organised by the SADC Secretariat.
H.E President Masisi indicated the appointments of the SADC PoE and MRG, for a four-year term, were made following approval by the 41st Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government held in Lilongwe, Malawi in August 2021.
President Masisi urged key policy and decision-making structures in the SADC region to make use of the expertise of the SADC PoE and MRG. The two structures comprise of eminent personalities that include former Heads of State and Government and former Government Ministers from other SADC countries who were appointed for their reputable and demonstrable political and technical expertise in conflict resolution, preventative diplomacy and mediation.
The SADC PoE and MRG are part of the SADC Mediation and Conflict Prevention and Preventative Diplomacy structure that was established by the SADC Heads of State and Government in August 2004, to foster political and security stability in the region through the prevention and resolution of significant inter-state and intra-state conflicts.
The SADC PoE who received appointment letters are; His Excellency Dr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, former president of the United Republic of Tanzania; His Excellency Mr. Paramasivum Pillay B. Vyapoory, former vice president of the Republic of Mauritius; Hon Patrick Anthony Chinamasa, former Attorney General and former, of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and Finance and Economic Planning of the Republic of Zimbabwe; and Hon. Charles Tibone, a former Minister, and former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry responsible for Foreign Affairs in the Republic of Botswana.
The following SADC MRG received appointment letters; Ambassador Molosiwa Selepeng, former Permanent Secretary to the President and former High Commissioner of Botswana to Australia; Ambassador Lucy Mungoma, former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Italy and former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Republic of Zambia; Ambassador Dr. Andrew Hama Mtetwa, former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Ambassador to Belgium, Ethiopia, South Africa and Zambia in the Republic of Zimbabwe; and Ms. Hellen Lwegasira a Mediation and Negotiation expert in the United Republic of Tanzania.
At the meeting, H.E Dr Kikwete, the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Vice–President of the Republic of Mauritius Mr. Vyapoory were appointed as Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the PoE respectively, while Amb. Mungoma from Zambia and Ms Lwegasila from the United Republic of Tanzania were elected as Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson for the MRG respectively.
Earlier during his opening remarks to the induction meeting, SADC Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for Corporate Affairs, Ambassador Joseph Nourrice, representing the Executive Secretary stressed that the MRG will serve as a technical advisory arm of the PoE, in fostering greater political involvement in issues that threaten to undermine peace in the sub-region.