Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) board chairperson, Bishop Martin Mtumbuka, has expressed fear that the ongoing Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit may not address the substantive inequalities and social and economic challenges of the people in the region because there were insufficient consultations before the meet.
Mtumbuka, who is also the Head of the Catholic Diocese of Karonga, said in the event that the Heads of State and Government did not conduct sufficient consultations, the agenda for the SADC Summit risks being dominated by capitalists’ interests.
“And if the region does not address the growing inequalities, SADC may no longer be a peaceful region. SADC needs to put justice and equality at the centre of its programming,” he warned.
Mtumbuka made the sentiments this morning at the 2021 SADC People’s Summit in Lilongwe.
The SADC People’s Summit is a network of civic actors in SADC, which is a regional bloc committed to collectively achieve social and economic development catalysed by democratic governance.
The meeting is being held under the theme: Elevate Justice and Equality.
Mtumbuka emphasized that an assessment of the progress that SADC is making in its programming needs to be made not only in terms economic growth figures, but also in terms of the inclusivity of the whole integration scheme, including development and implementation of the programmes as well as enjoyment of the benefits therefrom.
“It is for this reason that we have gathered here in Lilongwe, as representatives of the people of the region; to review the progress being made in the region’s development and integration. As we are meeting here at Crossroads Hotel, our Heads of State and Government are also meeting at Bingu International Conference Centre to do exactly the same process as we are doing here.
“But the question is: how many of us were consulted by our Governments in preparation for the Summit for the Heads of State and Government? If the consultations were insufficiently done, the Agenda for the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government risks being dominated by capitalists’ interests. In turn, this will make the outcome of this Summit being unable to address challenges of the citizens in the Region,” he said.
Mtumbuka therefore said the people’s meeting was very crucial as it presents an opportunity for the citizens’ voice to be heard in the corridors of power.
He urged citizens to seriously guard against turning SADC into a club for the elite where they discuss programmes that result in exploitation of people in the region instead of lifting them from “dehumanizing poverty”.
He hailed the leaders for giving specific attention to Corruption and Good Governance; Human Rights, Peace and Security; Climate Change, Natural Resources and Environment; Trade, Industry and Economic Governance; and Gender and Social Protection in their discussions.
Mtumbuka said these are some of the issues that are key to elevating justice and equality in the region.
“Justice and equality are key concepts in development that need to be given serious consideration, and more so in the context of SADC regional integration. The SADC Region is characterized by huge inequalities both among member countries and the citizens living in those member countries. Therefore, if there are no deliberate measures in the context of regional integration to address these inequalities, we will end up with a region, which is socially and economically polarised. The social and security incidences that the region is witnessing are evidently outcomes of growing inequalities,” he said.
Mtumbuka observed that the economic policies that are being pursued are in many cases disproportionately in favour of capitalists whose main objective is profit maximization.
As a result, he said, people in the region are not benefiting from the so-called foreign direct investment.
“If anything they are left worse off. Hence, we need to build a society where members are given an opportunity to mutually and freely consent to rules or codes of the society, which are advantageous to all. We want to build a society where people are respected because they are human beings not as a result of their social graces or trappings,” said Mtumbuka.
“WE also want a SADC where all people have equal rights and social and economic inequalities are attached to positions open to all, under conditions of equality of opportunity and are to the greatest benefit of the least privileged,” emphasized the fearless man of God.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :