The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) convened the annual Dialogue Platform meeting where they discussed joint collaborations in addressing the impact of COVID-19 and approaches for coordinated support towards the implementation of the Region's strategies and priorities on 30 November 2021.
The SADC-ICP Dialogue Platform meetings facilitate exchange of ideas thereby creating mutual understanding on approaches for support towards the SADC Regional Integration agenda.
Participants included members of the SADC Double Troika (Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa), a majority of SADC ICPs, representatives of Diplomatic Missions of SADC Member States in Gaborone, as well as officials from the SADC Secretariat.
This year, the dialogue was co-chaired by Mr Chauncy Simwaka, Secretary to Treasury in the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Malawi on behalf of the Chair of SADC Standing Committee of Senior Officials, and His Excellency Ambassador Jan Sadek, the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Botswana and SADC, and current Chairperson of the ICPs.
Officially opening the dialogue, Mr Simwaka thanked the ICPs for the continued support in implementing SADC regional programmes and acknowledged the timely and decisive support extended to the fight against COVID-19, coupled with the commendable measures taken by SADC Member States in trying to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
He said that despite the reduction in the number of positive cases in the SADC Region, COVID-19 remained a hindrance to regional integration, and urged ICPs to continue supporting the Region in its ambition to manufacture vaccines and other pharmaceuticals locally.
In his remarks, the SADC Executive Secretary, His Excellency Mr Elias M Magosi commended the ICPs for their support to SADC's regional programmes, and emphasised the importance of global partnerships and universal cooperation in tackling emerging challenges while ensuring alignment to SADC Vision 2050 and the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030. He implored the partners to heed SADC's call for the unconditional and immediate lifting of all sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe to facilitate socio-economic recovery.
"The sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, whether targeted or restrictive, are a fundamental constraint and hindrance to the country's prospects of economic recovery, human security and sustainable growth, as cooperation spirit cannot be optimally advanced in an environment of sanctions", the SADC Executive Secretary said.
H.E Sadek commended the high-level participation of both ICPs and SADC Member States and pledged the ICPs' commitment to continue working with the SADC Secretariat in advancing the regional integration agenda. He acknowledged the impact of COVID-19 and emphasised that ICPs were committed to supporting SADC in the fight against the pandemic.
H.E Sadek said that ICPs recognised SADC's ownership of the regional integration agenda and will align their development cooperation support with SADC priorities, as enshrined in Vision 2050 and RISDP 2020-2030.
SADC and the ICPs unanimously acknowledged the joint efforts in overcoming the negative effects of COVID-19 globally, and notably in the SADC Region because of the emergence of the Omicron variant. Both sides committed to continue working together by supporting SADC Member States in scaling up local production of medical supplies, including COVID 19 supplies and other pharmaceuticals in line with SADC priorities.
Other measures include implementing economic recovery plans, mobilising resources to enable the procurement of vaccines in countries where vaccines are not available, and facilitating support towards vaccine sharing between the developed nations and SADC Member States who have inadequate vaccines.
On peace and security, SADC extended appreciation for the continued support in ICP-funded initiatives. SADC assured ICPs of her commitment to finding home-grown lasting solutions through existing structures for purposes of addressing prevailing peace and security challenges in the Region.
Both sides also witnessed the valuable progress made by the respective Thematic Groups through the development of eight Multi-Year Action Plans 2021-2023. This was hailed as a big milestone and further enabling alignment of support to the RISDP.
The SADC-ICP Dialogue Platform and the Thematic Groups seek to establish constructive engagement, information and experience exchange and promote best practices at the technical level; improve coordination between ICPs and SADC; ensure alignment, harmonisation and streamlining of operational procedures, rules and other practices in the delivery of development assistance to SADC; and ensure synergy and complementarity of assistance provided at the national and regional levels.