Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Monday handed over the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to his Mozambican counterpart Filipe Nyusi and commended the regional bloc for its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Magufuli commended the SADC member states when he handed over the chair during the 40th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of SADC in a virtual meeting hosted by Tanzania from Chamwino State House in the capital Dodoma.
“I call upon all SADC member states to continue to work together not only in addressing the COVID-19 but also in preparing the post-pandemic situation of our community,” he said.
The outgoing chairperson hailed the combined efforts by SADC member states to reduce the impact caused by the novel coronavirus while continuing at the same time to execute regional programmes and projects.
According to the SADC secretariat, the regional bloc’s economic growth is anticipated to decline by an average of about 3.8 per cent in 2020, mainly due to the adverse impacts of COVID-19.
President Magufuli pointed out that during the past year as chairman of the regional bloc, Tanzania ensured that SADC, with a combined population of about 350 million, continued to strengthen peace and stability,democracy and good governance.
Taking over the Chair, President Nyusi has pledged to continue advancing the regional development agenda.
He said SADC was proud of the progress it has made since its founding 40 years ago, especially bearing in mind that the achievements have been made in the context of immense challenges such as climate change, economic and financial crisis, transnational organised crime, extremism and terrorism as well as diseases such as malaria, cholera, HIV/AIDS and Ebola, among others.
In her remarks, SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Tax said a number of milestones were posted during the past year, including timely development of SADC guidelines on the movement of goods and services across the region amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The guidelines greatly contributed to containment of the spread of COVID-19 and facilitated movement of goods hence minimising disruptions to economic activities and mitigating socio-economic hardships to SADC citizens,” she said.
On Aug. 17, 2019, Tanzania assumed the chair of SADC from Namibia. SADC is an inter-governmental organization established in 1992 to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among its 16 member states.