The lack of seriousness in regional security issues was at full display as President Lazarus Chakwera and others dumped a SADC security meeting discussing Mozambique insurgency for coronation of King Charles III of the United Kingdom, South African News 24 has observed.
The paper which is ghe largest in South Africa noted that presidents of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Malawi, Lesotho, Zambia, Mozambique and Angola missed a critical SADC summit.
They were in the United Kingdom after attending the coronation of King Charles III.
The aim of the summit was to consider report findings on the DRC conflict and review SADC armed force operations in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado.
Several Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state missed the Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit in Windhoek, Namibia, because they were in the United Kingdom after they attended the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday.
Incoming SADC chairperson, Angolan President João Lourenço, was represented by his Minister of External Relations, Tete António, and outgoing chairperson, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera, sent Minister of Defence Harry Mkandawire in his place.
Mkandawire was chosen ahead of vice-president Saulos Chilima, whose duties were suspended by Chakwera last year due to a graft probe involving alleged kickbacks from British-Malawian businessman, Zuneth Abdul Rashid Sattar.
Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema asked ambassador to Namibia Stephen Katuka to represent him.
Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Lesotho and Madagascar were represented by officials from their embassies.
The host, Namibian President Hage Geingob; South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, who didn’t attend the coronation; Tanzanian president Samia Suluhu Hassan; and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi attended the summit.
In his opening remarks, SADC executive secretary Elias Magosi said the summit was one of the most important gatherings on the SADC calendar this year.
It’s one of the most crucial structures of SADC, mandated to promote peace, and security in the region in recognition of the fundamental importance of peace and security to our drive towards regional integration, cooperation, integration and socio-economic development.
Despite Islamic extremist-linked insurgency in the oil gas-rich Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique, and conflict in the eastern part of the DRC, the SADC region remains the most peaceful region in Africa.
Hence, to improve on this, Magosi said SADC instruments employed to tackle crisis hotspots should remain activated.
While the crisis in the DRC is mostly dealt with under the East African Community (EAC), with the likes of Burundi, Kenya and Angola leading various platforms, SADC has the Force Intervention Brigade deployed under the UN peacekeeping mission.
Ramaphosa was in Burundi last week where he attended the regional oversight mechanism (ROM) for the peace, security and co-operation (PSC) framework for the Democratic of the Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region.
Ramaphosa is the outgoing chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
The summit noted that the humanitarian situation was getting worse in the DRC due to M23 rebels as well as more than 100 armed militia groups known as the Mai-Mai.
Chakwera returned home on Monday evening.