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Address resource leakages, Sadc urged

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BY VENERANDA LANGA

SOUTHERN Africa People’s Solidarity Network (SAPSN) secretary-general Janet Zhou has called on the Sadc leadership to address resource leakages and corruption which have crippled the regions’ capacity to effectively fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her statement to the Sadc 2020 people’s summit, Zhou said COVID-19 had reversed several years of development and deepened socio-economic inequalities among populations.

“At the root of the injustices and inequalities so painfully exposed by COVID-19 are structural and systematic factors that render our region woefully unprepared to address the complexities of a world beset by an endless stream of crises,” Zhou said.

“The region’s poor and vulnerable, particularly women and youth, are struggling to cope.”

Zhou, who is also executive director for the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt Development, said some of the problems include overwhelmed public health systems and weak social protection mechanisms.

She said policy and political choices were pivotal for a country’s ability to respond to the crises during challenges such as COVID-19.

“Years of austerity measures, privatisation of public services, structural adjustment measures and the mass transfer of public funds into private hands have weakened the public sector, undermined democratic order and opened the door for vested interests to plunder the region’s resources,” she said.

Zhou said COVID-19 and its underlying crisis of high martenal mortality, lack of access to water, housing, energy and other basic amenities for the majority of the region’s population was a wake-up call for the leaders to change course towards justice and equality.

“Unaddressed resources leakages resulting from corruption, illicit financial flows, and crippling debt burdens need to be addressed through sound and sustainable debt management as our governments increase borrowing to address COVID-19 impacts.”

Zhou said women and girls and the youth were the most vulnerable by the disruptive impacts of COVID-19.

“The escalating toll of the COVID-19 crisis on the livelihoods, well-being and development prospects of the region’s people warrants a robust and unprecedented regional response,” she said.

“However, the prevailing reality is that of under-resourced, uncoordinated and increasingly inward-looking responses by individual national states. This goes against the spirit and ethos of Sadc’s foundational principles,” Zhou said.

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