Geingob on SADC recovery path

By Hilary Mare

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob has urged SADC member states to intensify their cooperation efforts and explore new strategies to revive economies amid Covid-19.

Speaking at the 40th SADC summit of heads of state and government that was held in a virtual format and coordinated from Maputo, Mozambique this week, Geingob highlighted that Namibia, like other countries has experienced job losses as a result of the pandemic, however, there are opportunities to re-skill and upskill citizens to leverage the prospects that come from new technology.

“I wish to emphasise that we must remain resolute and emerge from this pandemic better equipped and prepared to deal with any future threats. Our unity and the pursuit of regional integration must remain at the forefront of our actions in order to build a stronger and more prosperous region.”

Considering the challenges posed by Covid-19, Geingob highlighted the need for the region to collectively develop and implement mitigating measures against these risks without fail.

“Similarly, within this context, the urgency of the SADC regional integration agenda cannot be over emphasised,” he said.

At the summit, SADC member states were commended for putting in place vibrant measures to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

These measures include investing more resources in strengthening public health systems as well as encouraging citizens to observe and enforce strict anti-coronavirus standards such as social distancing at workplaces, regular health screenings and wearing of masks at all times.

Other countries also introduced social protection measures to cushion the population from the effects of loss of income, particularly due to the economic lockdown imposed by a number of countries in response to the pandemic.

SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said these efforts being implemented by member states should continue to ensure that the fight against Covid-19 is won.

“Allow me to commend all SADC member states for the difficult decisions and the rigorous measures put in place to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19,” Tax said during the SADC council of ministers held ahead of the 40th SADC summit.

She said vibrant and rigorous measures had allowed most member states to reduce human suffering and minimise damage to SADC economies.

The severity and rapid spread of Covid-19, an infectious disease for which there is yet to be a cure, has been described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the most serious health emergency in generations.

Covid-19 has brought about negative impact across all sectors and has affected members of society differently.

The SADC Secretariat has carried out an in-depth analysis on the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 on SADC communities, and recommendations from the study were presented to the heads of state and government for their consideration when they met on August 17.

The 40th SADC Summit ran under the theme, ‘SADC: 40 years building peace and security, promoting development and resilience to face global challenges’.

At the summit, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi assumed the rotating SADC chair from President John Magufuli of Tanzania.

With respect to the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana assumed the chairmanship from President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.