SADC Executive Secretary clarifies Ramaphosa conference remarks

Dar es Salaam. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax, yesterday said there was nothing alarming in a meeting called by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to discuss Covid-19.

She said that the emergency meeting only involved countries neighboring South Africa and didn’t carry any SADC agenda. Dr Tax’s remarks comes barely two days after a video clip went viral on social media showing President Ramaphosa chairing a video conference with some heads of the SADC member states.

In the video clip, President Ramaphosa informed the fellow leaders that he had called the meeting after unsuccessfully seeking for one from the SADC chairman President John Magufuli. He revealed about his communication with President Magufuli on the need to hold a Covid-19 meeting, saying, Magufuli only asked them to write and send their opinions.

Ramaphosa said it was after that that he thought of holding a meeting with SA’s neighbours.

Yesterday, Dr Tax told The Citizen in an interview that what Ramaphosa was referring to was not about a conference of SADC. “That was his (Ramaphosa’s) meeting with his neighbouring countries. He had a private agenda,” said Dr Tax.

When asked about Ramaphosa’s reported failure to have Magufuli call for a conference meeting of SADC Heads of State, she responded that all applications for such a meeting must pass through her office.

“How come I was not informed?,’ she queried. A meeting of SADC without the executive secretary and without its secretariat? SADC is an institution with procedures to be followed,” she said.

Dr Tax, a Tanzanian, added that SADC meetings are called by the executive secretary after consultations with the chairman. She said the meetings usually involved 16 member states of the bloc, with a 2/3 quorum. Ramaphosa held a conference of eight countries.

During the 39th summit of the SADC Heads of State, on August 17-18 last year in Dar es salaam, Namibian President Hage Geingob handed over the SADC chairmanship to President Magufuli. He has three months to end his one year term.

Ramaphosa told the meeting SA which was bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic thought it wise to engage the leaders on a common strategy. He briefed his counterparts on other developments in the continent to mitigate effects of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, speaking separately in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, said the third teleconferencing of SADC Council of Ministers will be held later this month, during which member countries will table respective Covid-19 reports.

He said while Madagascar’s report will include the introduction of its CVO, a herbal concotion, Tanzania will also provide a report on discoveries made by the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).

“The meeting was supposed to be held in June but the ongoing disease situation prevented us from meeting. The public will therefore be informed what transpired during the meeting” he said.