The Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) led by the Acting President, Archbishop Lerotholi, paid a courtesy call to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax on the 25th January, 2019 in Gaborone, Botswana. The objective was to formally introduce IMBISA to SADC, and to discuss possible areas of cooperation between the two institutions.
Archbishop Lerotholi thanked the SADC Executive Secretary for the opportunity rendered to IMBISA to visit the Secretariat. He highlighted that IMBISA is an organ of Liaison and Pastoral Cooperation between Episcopal Conferences of Angola and Sao Tome & Principe, Kingdoms of eSwatini and Lesotho, Republics of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. IMBISA Secretariat is based in Harare, Zimbabwe. It was established in 1975 to discuss matters of common concern and update each other with regards to developments in member countries.
Archbishop Lerotholi indicated that socio-economic, human rights, human trafficking, peace and reconciliation, elections, and climate change are some of the IMBISA areas of focus. Therefore, the Catholic church realized the strategic importance of SADC, hence, would like to collaborate with SADC.
The SADC Executive Secretary, warmly welcomed Archbishop Lerotholi and his entourage to the SADC Secretariat. She indicated that the areas that IMBISA is focusing on are in line with priorities of SADC. She said SADC is in the process of developing an engagement mechanism for civil society engagement and welcomed IMBISA to be part of the process. She also highlighted that IMBISA would also engage SADC through other established engagement mechanisms such as the SADC Congress of Non-Governmental Organisations. She advised that in terms of election observation, there are guidelines, and that IMBISA should liaise with Member States who provide observers for election observation to be considered to be part of those observer missions.
Archbishop Tlali Lerotholi was accompanied by the Secretary General, Archbishop Robert Ndlovu, Secretariat Director, Father Claudio Dos Reis and Programms Officer, Ms. Brenda Gwasira Mapayi.