THE CITY of Lilongwe in Malawi invokes a lot of memories for me.
This is the city where I was sworn-in as the sixth (6th) Executive Secretary of SADC. On that historic day on 18 August 2013, I also became the first woman to assume the post of SADC Executive Secretary – a clear testimony of the region’s commitment to promote gender equality and an affirmation that women are as capable as their male counterparts.
It is a huge honour for me to return to this beautiful city of Lilongwe for the 41st SADC Heads of State and Government Summit, which runs 17-18 August to bid my farewell to the SADC Family after serving the SADC Secretariat for eight (8) years.
A BIG THANK YOU to my Government, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, and all SADC leaders for giving me this opportunity to serve the region. My gratitude also goes to SADC citizens, cooperation partners, private sector and non-state actors, and my colleagues at the SADC Secretariat for their unwavering support during my tenure.
My eight-year tenure, which started on the 1st of September, 2013 and later renewed as of 1st of September 2017 has been worthwhile, obviously with ups and downs, I gave all my best within my capabilities to advance the regional integration agenda of SADC. I chronicle in greater detail some of the key milestones and challenges I achieved and encountered in the Question-and-Answer Session contained in this publication.
This year’s summit which is being held under the theme “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation” comes at a time that the region and the rest of the global community is reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, I must commend SADC Member States for putting in place various measures to contain COVID-19 and its socio-economic impacts. COVID-19 remains a global challenge for all. We must continue to work together in addressing the pandemic, COVID-19 knows no boundaries.
Since 2014, SADC Summits have focused on industrialization, and it is thus befitting that this year’s theme continues with this industrialization trajectory, particularly now that, the regional integration agenda has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges. COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the need for Africa and SADC to industrialize and enhance trade among ourselves now, more than ever. It is therefore, critical for SADC to tackle and seize any hard realities or threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and turn them into opportunities for emboldening industrialization and intra-SADC and intra-Africa trade. An increased demand for medicines and medical supplies during and post the COVID-19 period point to the importance for SADC to enhance its research capability, enhance its pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity and to develop vaccines, while also promoting alternative medicines.
As the pandemic remains a challenge, it is critical that SADC Member States continue to assess the sectoral socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, and respond with appropriate measures. This will enable the region to ensure that the disruption does not seriously negate achievements realized in integration, including in the industrialization drive of the region.
During the year 2020, the SADC celebrated its 40th anniversary, and a number of milestones since its formation in April 1980. The milestones have been documented in a publication titled, 40 Years of SADC: Enhancing Regional Cooperation and Integration, which traces the journey that SADC has travelled since its formation. Some of these and more achievements are described in this 41st Summit Brochure under the section that summarizes the key activities and programmes undertaken by different Directorates and Units in the past year.
The 40 Years of SADC Publication also includes a section on the Honouring of the SADC Founders. This generation of visionary leaders included the founding presidents of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, namely: Dr Agostinho Neto, Sir Seretse Khama, Samora Machel, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda and Robert Mugabe, respectively. These golden generation of selfless leaders believed in a united region where all the citizens enjoy high living standards and peace. We owe it to these leaders for establishing the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) in 1980, which was later transformed to Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 1994.
It is with deep sorrow that we mourn the passing on of one of the last SADC Founders, the late first President of independent Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda who passed on 17 June 2021. Zambia has not only lost its liberation leader, but the loss of “KK” as he was popularly known has also deprived southern Africa a strong campaigner for African unity and deeper regional integration.
In recognition of the sacrifices and their commitment to Southern African political freedom, regional integration and regional economic development, a Mechanism in Honour of the Founders of SADC, which will include a Museum, has been established. It is everyone’s duty to preserve the legacy of our Founding Fathers.
This 41st Summit Brochure dedicates a full section to the Republic of Malawi as the Host Nation of the 41st SADC Heads of State and Government Summit, and the Chairperson of SADC during the 2021/22 under the leadership of His Excellency President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, who becomes the Chairperson of SADC as of 18 August 2021 to August 2022.
The 41st Summit Brochure, also contains a section on the SADC Media Awards to honour journalists who tell the “SADC Story” and promote deeper integration, as well as the SADC Secondary Schools Essay Competition to ensure we engender the spirit of togetherness among the leaders of tomorrow.
2021 has also been a year of major setbacks for SADC with the loss of leaders of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Kingdom of Eswatini. We lost His Excellency Dr John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, the 5th President of the United Republic of Tanzania, who died on 17 March 2021, and the Right Honourable Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, who was the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini who passed on 13 December 2020. The region also lost a number of ministers, public and private sectors officials, frontline workers, and SADC citizens. May their souls rest in eternal peace.
As President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Magufuli was the Chairperson of SADC between August 2019 until August 2020. His many achievements at the helm of SADC include finalization of the formulation of the SADC Vision 2050 and SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2020-2030, the approval of the SADC Protocol on Industry, which aims to improve the policy environment for industrial development and support implementation, the adoption of Kiswahili as the Fourth SADC Official Working Language in honour of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, and the approval of 25th October as a day for calling for the removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
It is my hope that you will find this 41st SADC Summit Brochure useful. I wish to express my gratitude to our knowledge partner, the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), for their continued dedication and professional support in preparing both the 40 Years of SADC Publication and the 41st Summit Brochure
Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax
SADC Executive Secretary