The Southern African People’s Solidarity Network (SAPSN) has called upon SADC heads of state to be relevant in the region in promoting and championing peace and security as well as rule of law.
The call was made on 19 August, 2021 during the SADC People’s Summit in Lilongwe by Bishop Dr. Martin Mtumbuka who was the Guest of honor at the summit.
Bishop Mtumbuka who is Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) Board Chairperson said SADC leaders need to end regional conflicts and promote peace in the region and also be relevant in making sure that every country benefit from the SADC Bloc.
“As SASPN will make sure that after 12 months everyone in the region will consider SADC to be a relevant body to ordinary people in all sections of economic life, because at the moment the general feeling is that this is a nice club for heads of state to meet, share jokes and produce documents which they ignore as soon as they get home. We want to improve on that because I think that’s part and parcel of being accountable to the tax payers while meeting the cost of these summits.
“We would like to focus on making SADC more relevant to people, inclusive economic development anchored on the rule of law and peace and security in the region particularly focusing on Eswatini, North Mozambique, I think these are the three areas we want to focus on,” said Mtumbuka.
Mtumbuka also noted that as Non-Governmental organizations that are pushing for the goodwill of people in the region, their role is to make sure that the heads of state are abiding to rule of law and respecting human rights.
“We are not elected people so our role is lobbying and when lobbying doesn’t work then advocating but within the framework of the rules that are there. But the job has to be done by SADC structures, we are not elected leaders so it really ultimately depends on SADC leadership because we can only lobby and where lobbying is not very useful then advocate and we can’t take the place of Heads of states but we want to make sure that it should be visible at the end that we make our greatest effects in these three areas making SADC more relevant, championing and promoting inclusive social economic development and also championing and promoting peace and security in the region with particularly attention to Eswatini and Mozambique”, explained Mtumbuka.
Mtumbuka also strongly spoke on the need for the current new leadership of SADC to be strong in ending conflict in the SADC region.
“President Dr Lazarus Chakwera has now taken over the Chairmanship of SADC, he is responsible for ensuring that SADC goes the right direction and encourage his friends towards that direction, so it is obvious thing if you want your business to thrive you must have a general manager who know what he is doing and takes a company towards a right direction so this is what we meant, decisive leadership, enforcement of the rule of law and speaking with one voice,” said Mtumbuka.
In her remarks, MEJN Board member who is also new Malawi’s Ombudsman Grace Malera said there is need for SADC heads of state to respect and protect human rights particularly of women and girls as well as enforcing Constitutional order in as far as issues of Justice is concerned.
“This is a very important forum where NGOs across the SADC region, human rights defenders were coming together to look at issues of the human rights situation in the SADC Countries and how best to engage our government particularly for us in Malawi taking advantage of the fact that the Chairmanship of the SADC has gone to our President and therefore how we can take advantage of that and ensure that there’s more constructive engagements,” said Malera.
The SADC People’s Summit was dubbed ” Festival of the poor” and was aimed at pushing issues affecting the voiceless in the SADC region.