By God’s providence, I am honoured and humbled this day to take over mantles of leadership of SADC from my dear brother His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mocambique and outgoing Chairperson of SADC following a very productive tenure of office. Muito Obligado!
On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Malawi and on my own behalf, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to my dear brother, His Excellency President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, the government and the people of the Republic of Mozambique for your leadership in the launch of two key documents for the region; The SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020/2030 and the SADC Vision 2050, as well as the establishment of the SADC humanitarian and Emergency Operation Centre (SHEOC) and we will put these instruments to full and good use.
Malawi’s assumption of the SADC Chairship comes in the context of Covid-19 pandemic and efforts to stop it in its tracks and restore social order.
However, the inequalities and disparities in accessing Covid-19 vaccines are seriously hindering efforts to save the lives of millions in the SADC region and must be tackled head-on.
I, therefore, want to make a larger point to the rest of the global community:
The inequalities and disparities we are seeing in the distribution and production of Covid-19 vaccines are symptomatic of an old geopolitical framework that is no longer working, no longer sustainable and no longer acceptable.
I am referring to a framework that regards the world as an animal farm in which some nations are more equal than others. I am referring to a framework that regards some nationalities as more special than others. I am referring to a framework that regards some human lives as more worthy of saving than others.
Our message to those nations that promote and perpetuate this framework is simple: You are using a tired and failed formula.
African countries are full members of the global community, – period! As such, for the sake of the dignity of all human beings everywhere, we, as Africans, have moral duty to refuse to be treated as second class citizens.
We, as Africans have a moral duty to refuse second-class status in the rules of engagement for participating in the global economy. So, the time has come for us to work together to put the ratified African Continental Free Trade Area to full use until the economic rules that disadvantage our nations are rewritten.
We, as Africans, have a moral duty to refuse second-class status in the restrictions we accept from outsiders for managing our own finances and resources. So, the time has come for us to stand together in insisting that our Bretton woods institutions reconfigure the terms and conditions they have imposed on us for decades, leaving us in deeper poverty than they found us.
We, as Africans, have a moral duty to refuse second-class status in our participation in the United Nations decisions that affect the peace, stability and sustainability of our world. So, the time has come for us to insist that Africa must have at least one permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
And now, as the world faces this global health crisis that has killed millions, torpedoed economies and disrupted social order, we, as Africans, have a moral duty to reject second-class status in the distribution and production of Covid-19 vaccines invented and manufactures in labs where some of the scientists doing such work are Africans. So, the time has come for us to insist that a vaccine that preserves and sustains a person’s basic right to life belongs to all nations, no matter who discovered it.
I repeat; treating African nations and nationals as second-class members of the global community is no longer acceptable. We do not accept it and we will not accept it and we must and cannot accept it.
At a regional level like SADC, this means recognizing that our truest friends in this world are not those who are satisfied to see us continue in our poverty so that they can sustain their Messianic complex as our benefactors and liberators. No! Our truest friends are those who work side by side with us on increasing our productive capabilities and turning our economies into engines for sustainable growth.
I am, therefore, honoured to launch Malawi’s proposed theme for the 2021/2022 SADC Chairship which is; “Bolstering productive capabilities in the face of Covid-19 pandemic for sustained, inclusive economic and industrial transformation”.
It is our considered view that the SADC we want is unattainable without levelling the playing field on Covid-19 pandemic, revitalizing the agricultural sector, enhancing value addition, facilitating trade and simplifying rules of origin.
The African Continental Free Trade Area has availed SADC the opportunity to become bread basket and export basket of Africa. But, we must seize the moment. We must fully implement the industrialization strategy and road map; SADC Regional Agriculture Policy and SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan among others.
In line with the new SADC theme, the government of Malawi is currently implementing Malawi 2063, a vision focused on three drivers towards middle income status for our economy. Agricultural Productivity and Commercialization, Industrialization and Urbanization. In this regard, one of Malawi’s flagship projects is the Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP) for the period 2018 to 2031, valued at US$563 million. Its aim is increasing agricultural productivity and commercialization for targeted households in that Shire valley and to improve the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources.
The true potential of this project lies in the opportunities for private sector participation from member states with the wherewithal for value addition chains towards industrialization.
Such initiatives also benefit greatly from annual SADC industrialization week which facilitates business linkages and promotes trade opportunities between member states. These are the tools for regional integration I promise to push for, during my tenure as Chair because the time has come for us on a regional integration to turn talk into walk. That is why Malawi will ensure that the 5th SADC industrialization week is held here some time this coming November to make this year’s theme a reality.
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, at this juncture, allow me to pay my profound tribute to my dear brother His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana, the outgoing Chairperson of the SADC organ on politics, defense and security council for the commendable progress achieved in consolidating democratic principles of transparency and the rule of law, peace and security in the region during his term of office.
Ridding on that work, we have no choice, but to apply ourselves to sustaining the gains made to date considering how critical this is to other multilateral agreements like the 2063 African Union Agenda; the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the decade 2014 to 2024.
In assuming that SADC Chairship, Malawi commits to ensuring that we push our regional goals as we represent the Southern Africa group at the AU Peace and Security Council, UN Human Rights Council and provide leadership at UN Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Excellencies, let me also take this opportunity to congratulate His Excellency Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and the in-coming Chairperson of the SADC organ on politics, defense and security cooperation. I commit to work closely with Your Excellency to ensure sustained peace and security in the region.
In conclusion, I give you all three assurances:
- I assure you of my government’s commitment to the ideals, values and principles of SADC.
- I assure you of my best efforts to steer the implementation of SADC region integration agenda.
- And lastly, I assure you of my enthusiasm to serve you by conducting the affairs of SADC with the determination required of your Chair, an honour I hereby accept with great humility and joy.
Long Live SADC!
Muito Obligado; Merci Beaucoup; Asante San; Zikomo Kwambiri; and Thank You all for your kind attention.