The SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax attended the closing ceremony of the Command Post Exercise (CPX) - Exercise Umodzi at Malawi Armed Forces College (MAFCO) in Salima on 15th October 2018.
The guest of Honour at the closing ceremony was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Malawi, Hon. Dr Emmanuel Fabiano, The Ceremony was also graced by the presence of the Representative of the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, the Zambia High Commissioner to Malawi, His Excellency Dr John Phiri. Other dignitaries included SADC Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs or their representatives, Defence and Security Chiefs and representatives of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The distinguished guests were briefed on the exercise conduct and taken on a tour of the exercise area by the Exercise Director, Maj Gen Mhone in order to appreciate the overall execution of the exercise. During the briefing, the Exercise Director highlighted that the objectives that had been set for the exercise were all successfully archived and the gaps were noted for future improvement.
When delivering her remarks,Remarks the SADC Executive Secretary expressed her appreciation to the Republic of Malawi for accepting to host the exercise and the SADC Member States during the two weeks period. She further noted that the SADC Standby Force attained its Full Operational Capability (FOC) after the successful conduct of Amani Africa II Field Training Exercise, held in Lohatla, South Africa in November 2015, within the framework of the African Standby Force (ASF), as an integral component of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).
SADC Executive Secretary also expressed her confidence on the fact that Exercise Umodzi had further enhanced the Operational Capability of the SADC Standby Force and helped to assess the state of operational readiness, by so doing adequately preparing the SADC Standby Force to fulfill its obligations under the African Standby Force roster duties.
Dr. Tax stated that SADC, like other Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms, takes its commitment to “Silence the guns in Africa by 2020” seriously. In this connection, she called upon SADC Member States to maintain a high-level of readiness of the contingents during the period of the African Standby Force roster.
When officially closing the Exercise, STATEMENT Hon. Dr Emmanuel Fabiano, congratulated Member States and participants for their commitment to the exercise and expressed sincere gratitude to the SADC Community for entrusting Malawi to host the exercise. He saluted the multidimensional aspect of the exercise and particularly the notable increment in the number of women participation. The Minister stated that, “Women and children are the most affected during conflicts, hence there was a need to train more women Peacekeepers who can easily understand the plight of their fellow women in during conflict situations”.
He further urged the participants to use the knowledge and experience gained within the two weeks period to make Africa a better and secure place. He stressed that, “Peace and Security are the bedrock of development, and as such there is a need to secure and promote Peace at all times”.
The African Union Representative, Brig Gen (rtd) Kabage, also expressed his gratitude to SADC for the good preparations and conduct of the exercise and for the very positive outcomes archived. He further encouraged the SADC to continue in undertaking different exercises including Field Training Exercises (FTX) so as to further prepare the personnel for peace support operations.
During the ceremony, the representative of the Chairperson of the Organ, HE Dr Phiri, handed over certificates to the Head of Mission Mrs Eunice Luambia and the exercise senior mission leadership team as well as to all the participants of the exercise. The ceremony ended with the handing over of the SADC flag to the Executive Secretary by Mrs Luambia, as a symbolic gesture for having successfully completed the mission. The flag had been handed over to her during the receipt of the mission mandate and directives for the exercise on 17th September 2018 at the SADC Headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana.
The exercise was conducted over the period 1-16 October 2018, and was attended by around 610 participants from twelve SADC Member States including Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Republic of South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.