Malawi President Dr Joyce Banda has taken over the chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) from her Mozambique counterpart, Armando Emilio Guebuza, with renewed vigour to progress the regional body´s objective of sustained regional integration and to end conflict.
The event was characterised by the ceremonial handover of the SADC chairperson´s badge to President Banda by Guebuza at the event held at the Bingu International Conference Centre in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe on Saturday.
SADC Heads of State, including Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, Tanzania President Jakata Kikwete, South African President Jacob Zuma and Botswana President Ian Khama, witnessed the handover.
President Banda said she was “humbled” to accept the leadership of the 14 member regional block, thanking President Guebuza “for his wise leadership during his one year tenure of office” and acknowledges the support he received from Guebuza which has prepared for the role of Chairmanship that she has assumed.
She also commended the leadership provided by “my Brother” Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete and the outgoing Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, “in promoting the principles of democracy, rule of law, peace and security in the region.”
“Both President Guebuza and President Kikwete have been actively involved in peace seeking efforts in our region- this is what SADC is known for: a peace loving region,” she said.
Banda said expectations of people in the region is high, saying “ as incoming Chair, I feel the weight of these expectations.”
“Millions of our young people in the region face a daily struggle to survive: they cannot find jobs. They cannot go to school. Even if they do, they are not able to secure employable skills,” said the Malawi leader, a first female Head of State to head SADC.
“Millions of our women and men struggle to survive in conditions of poverty, deprivation and underdevelopment. They are hungry for food, through no fault of their own. They die from preventable diseases, through no fault of their own. They die giving birth to another life, through no fault of their own. They are raped in their homes and communities. They suffer violence at home, at school, and in their communities, through no fault of their own. Many of them have lost their dignity, through no fault of their own,” she said.
“These are the SADC citizens who pay taxes. These are SADC citizens who vote. These are our citizens and our neighbours. They work for us and we work for them. And yet, when they hear our voices and observe our actions, they see that in reality, sometimes we do not always work for them. Our actions suggest that the poor should care for the poor.”
Banda pointed out that to achieve peace and stability in SADC countries the leaders should wage a vigorous war against poverty.
“We must fight the war to end the contemporary, deliberate and savage violence of poverty and underdevelopment of our people, particularly those in our rural communities.
“To win this war, we must encourage political tolerance and the rule of law. We must promote inclusive politics. In this, we cannot afford to leave the youth behind. We cannot afford to leave women behind. We cannot afford to leave the poor to look after the poor.”
President Banda said she will strive to drive initiatives that bring SADC closer to the people “for whom it works; a people centred SADC. In short – a SADC for the people and by the people.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :