BY VENERANDA LANGA
Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders have been called upon to deal with the insurgencies that threaten Mozambique and instability in Zimbabwe in order to end tensions and the deepening crisis of poverty in the region.
The call was made yesterday by the Southern Africa Peoples’ Solidarity Network (SASPN) during its Sadc people’s summit 2020 virtual conference.
SASPN secretary-general Janet Zhou encouraged citizens in the region to remain vigilant and safeguard their socio-economic and political rights, while holding leaders to account over human rights abuses.
Zhou said Sadc leaders needed to come up with policies to safeguard citizens against being exploited in mining, solve climate change issues, eradicate poverty and provide safety nets for people with disabilities, women, children and the youth who have lost their livelihoods during the COVID 19 crisis.
“Sadc citizens need to reclaim the space and find their voice in policy making in the continent so that we can meet and talk about our struggles in the region for solidarity, and try to create alternatives to the current development discourse by building citizens resistance to the challenges in the region that are actually internally authored in different Sadc countries,” Zhou said.
“We (SASPN) continue to stand with the people of Mozambique that are facing the threat of insurgencies and the instability in Zimbabwe and other problems in the region and demand that our leaders should solve these problems,” she said.
SASPN called for increased investment in the public health sector and an end to gender and sexual exploitation of women and girls, and for Sadc leaders to come up with policies that address climate change and natural disasters so that the region does not continue to depend on food handouts.
Zhou said there was need for transparency in mining contracts and other contracts with multi-national companies for extraction of natural resources in Sadc, where people are often left disadvantaged and environments depleted.
“We call upon Sadc to form a stand alone protocol and strategy to breakdown political polarisation and exclusion of young people and pressurise Sadc to ensure young people participate. Our health and education, and water and sanitation systems are threatened by the increase in privatisation. There are limited social safeguards when public services are shifted into private hands,” she said.
Candida Luis Quintano, the Mozambique SASPN organising committee representative said the security threat in Mozambique was affecting mostly rural communities, reducing the economic status of women and children as well as extraction of natural resources and fishing communities.
“Sadc should find alternative ways of dealing with the insurgency which is gaining form in Mozambique. We want a new opportunity to rebuild and relaunch our economies at political and social levels. We also challenge neo-liberalism and capitalism which has been gaining space in our governments,” Luis Quintano said.