The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax met with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Botswana and SADC, His Excellency Dr. Victor Ivanovich Sibilev at the SADC Secretariat Head Office in Gaborone, Botswana on 6th July 2020. Ambassador Sibilev conveyed birthday wishes to H.E. Dr. Tax from Honourable Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and reaffirmed his commitment to continue strengthening the existing cordial relations between SADC and the Russian Federation. The two parties have in 2018, signed two Memoranda of Understanding on Basic Principles of Relations and Cooperation; and on Defence and Technical Cooperation which are envisaged to enhance socio-economic and cultural cooperation and to strengthen cooperation in the defence technological and technical areas.
The two parties discussed the COVID-19 situation in their respective jurisdictions, wherein Ambassador Sibilev highlighted that the COVID-19 situation in Russia was improving, with re-opening of the economy and schools. He further highlighted that the Russian Federation could provide support to SADC Member States in the fight against COVID -19, and was already working with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Republics of Malawi and South Africa in the area of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, test kits, disinfectant wipes and some medical equipment. To this end, Ambassador Sibilev presented a proposal from the Russian Federation Ministry of Industry and Trade, regarding the availability of PPE and other medical equipment to help the region in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic from Russian manufacturers.
Dr. Tax thanked Honourable Lavrov and Ambassador Sibilev on behalf of the Russian Federation for the well-thought birthday wishes. She stated that the Russian Federation remains a strategic partner to SADC and the African continent. She further expressed SADC’s gratitude to the Russian Federation for support granted to SADC Member States in the fight against COVID-19, and highlighted that SADC Member States have put in place a number of measures in the fight against the pandemic, and to cushion its socio-economic impacts. She also indicated that in collaboration with Member States and other partners, the SADC Secretariat has taken a coordinated regional approach to contain the spread of COVID-19 across the region, and to mitigate the pandemic’s social and economic impacts on SADC.
The SADC Executive Secretary embraced the offer from the Russian Federation on the availability of PPE from Russian manufacturers, and underscored that the offer was consistent with the recent SADC Council of Ministers decision mandating the SADC Secretariat to negotiate with Governments hosting manufacturing companies, for preferential dispensation to SADC Region for the supply of essential medicine and equipment required for COVID-19, and assured the Ambassador that the offer will be submitted for Member States consideration.
The two parties committed to implement agreed actions in the two Memoranda of Understanding and pledged to remain seized with the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. The Executive Secretary was accompanied by Ms. Duduzile Simelane, Director for Social and Human Development, while Ambassador Sibilev was accompanied by the First Secretary Mr. Michael Sigmikog.