The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Her Excellency, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, has thanked the outgoing Russian Federation Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Botswana and Special Representative to SADC, Dr Victor Ivanovic Sibilev, for his contribution to the advancement of the SADC Regional Integration agenda and for helping to cement the relationship between SADC and Russia during his tenure.
She applauded the cordial relations and impressive successes achieved during Dr Sibilev’s time in office, stating that it was an exciting and pleasant period to have worked with him in strengthening SADC-Russia Cooperation during the past six years.
Dr Tax was speaking at a ceremony in Gaborone where Dr Sibilev bid her farewell on 25th November 2020. She recognised the Ambassador’s leadership in the execution of two major milestones in the SADC-Russia Cooperation, notably the conclusion of the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of the Russian Federation and SADC in Military Technical Cooperation that was signed in July 2018; and the MoU on Basic Principles of Relations and Cooperation signed in October 2018.
Dr Tax expressed hope that the collaboration will continue to pursue areas of mutual interest for continued fruitful collaboration between SADC and the Russian Federation and safeguard the recorded achievements. She said that the two parties had a mammoth task to expedite implementation of roadmaps and framework of the agreements.
She applauded the contribution by the Government of the Russian Federation for its unwavering support to the region in curbing the spread of COVID-19 which has potential to reverse socio-economic gains. Russia is also working with the Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in providing assistance with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, test kits, disinfectant wipes and some medical equipment.
Ambassador Sibilev thanked Dr Tax for wishing him well in his endeavours and expressed appreciation for the close cooperation from the SADC Secretariat. He described the relationship between SADC and Russia as successful and fruitful, having made huge strides in developing mutually beneficial relations through the signing of MoUs for cooperation. He pointed out that the first ever Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum held in Sochi, Russia, in 2019 made big inroads in the enhancement of bilateral ties between Russia and SADC Member States.
The Ambassador shared the impact of the coronavirus which has made it difficult for both parties to expedite work on the draft roadmaps and hosting of political consultations. He informed Dr Tax that the Russian Federation was willing to share experience in anti-coronavirus vaccine production, having registered the first ever vaccine that is effective and affordable. He stated that through the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which had exclusive rights to produce and supply the vaccine abroad, SADC Member States were invited to establish partnerships with RDIF to produce the vaccine in the SADC region using local capacities and suppliers.
Dr Sibilev encouraged SADC Member States to liaise with other Russian structures, such as the newly established Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum and the Association of Economic Cooperation with African States, to promote cooperation between Russian investors and SADC Member States.
The Ambassador further assured Dr Tax continued commitment towards cooperation with and promotion of the SADC region in different capacities.
The ceremony was also attended by the Deputy Executive Secretary Responsible for Corporate Affairs, Ambassador Joseph Nourrice; the African Union Reforms Expert in the Office of the Executive Secretary, Mr Mukundi Mutasa; and the Resource Mobilisation Officer from the Directorate of Policy Planning and Resource Mobilisation, Andoniaina B. Andriamiandrisoa. Ambassador Sibilev was accompanied by his office attache, Mr Nikita Eroshov.