The Ministerial Committee of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held its 22nd meeting virtually on 26 June, 2020 with a call for new thinking in the face of emerging threats to regional peace and security.
In his opening remarks, Honourable Lt General (Rtd) Dr Sibusiso B. Moyo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Chairperson of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ said it is only through sustained peace, security and stability that the region can realise its development goals.
Hon. Lt General (Rtd) Dr Sibusiso B. Moyo urged Member States to reflect deeply on how to strengthen and make full use of mechanisms such as the SADC Early Warning System; Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the SADC Standby Force, among others, to timeously, strategically, holistically and comprehensively address the current and potential threats to regional stability, peace and security.
The Minister commended SADC Member States for their commitment to strengthening democracy through, amongst others, holding of regular elections and adherence to the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, adding that it is a testimony to a maturing and deepening democratic culture in the region.
In her remarks, the SADC Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax commended Honourable Rtd. Lt. Gen. Dr. Sibusiso Moyo, for his remarkable leadership in steering the work of the MCO during his tenure as Chairperson of the MCO.
H.E. Dr Tax expressed concern over the surge in security threats that threaten to undermine the development trajectory of the region and called for urgent attention and new thinking, in order to address these threats in a timely, holistic and dynamic manner. She highlighted that SADC has prioritized peace and security in recognition of the fact that peace and security are fundamental for development and regional integration.
On the consolidation of democracy in the region, H.E. Dr Tax stressed the importance of managing elections as a key tenet of democracy, political stability and good governance. In this regard, H.E. Dr Tax expressed the need to find sustainable means of funding the SADC Electoral Observation Missions so as to ensure that the electoral processes and democracy in the region are not compromised by external factors due to financial constraints.
The SADC Executive Secretary urged Member States to ratify the Protocol on Facilitation of Movement of Persons which was adopted in 2005 and to date, only seven Member States have ratified it. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic has amongst others, pointed to the need of facilitating movement of persons during normal times, and during pandemics, hence the urgent need for the Protocol to come into effect.
The SADC Ministerial Committee of the Organ is a structure of the Organ of SADC, established under Article 10A of the SADC Treaty and Article 3 of the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation with the responsibility to coordinate the work of the Organ and its structures in promoting peace and security in the region. The MCO comprises Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Public Security and State Security from SADC Member States.