By Kenson McCloud
Youth activists in the country have described the one year the country has been at the helm of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) as a lost opportunity for championing the integration of youth development in the region.
President Lazarus Chakwera took over the SADC chairmanship from his Mozambican counterpart Filipe Nyusi in August 2021 at the 41st Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State at a time the whole world, SADC Region inclusive, was in anguish due to the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the 41st Ordinary SADC Summit which was held in the country, member states resolved to boost productive capacities in the face of the pandemic for inclusive, sustainable, economic and industrial transformationas part of efforts aimed at fostering regional integration.
When President Lazarus Chakwera ascended to the reins of SADC top leadership, there was an iota of hope that it was Malawi’s time to see economic revolution and realism of youth empowerment models.
As the country’s SADC chairmanship is coming to an end, have the objectives been achieved? Have the lives of the youth, who form the largestpart of the whole population both locally and regionally, improved to the anticipated levels?
Taking stock of the one-year SADC reign, one of the country’s youth activists, Dingiswayo Jere, is of the view that the youth agenda was hardly pursued on the regional front.
Jerehas told Timveni that despite the SADC secretariat having its own areas of focus, the country should have seized the opportunity to push for the youth agenda both on the local and regional levels.
According to Jere, President Chakwera failed to work with relevant ministries including the Ministry of Youth and Sports to improve the welfare of the youth in the region who are languishing from the impact of global economic challenges.
Jere said there should have been a deliberate move by Chakwera to show that he was committed to championing the drive towards youth development in the region.
Sharing his sentiments, a social commentator, Humphreys Mvula said the country has not benefited a lot from the SADC Chairmanship.
Mvula said the country failed to use the opportunity to promote the country’s tourism sector which is in dire of boosting.
He further bemoaned the failure to promote trade as there have not been meaningful investments over the period.
Mvula, however, commended Chakwera for promoting peace and regional integration during his tenure as chairperson.
However, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs John Kabaghe defended Chakwera, saying there was a lot of effort from the SADC chairperson to promote inclusive growth in the region, including the youth.
According to Kabaghe, there were so many challenges that the country’s chairmanship faced including the covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine which affected the implementation of some of the programs that were outlined for the benefit of people in the region including the youth.
He then implored people to recognise the significant role Chakwera’s leadership played in response to disasters that hit some parts of Southern Africa and his stand against discrimination of African Countries by the west during the outbreak of the Omicron Covid Variant which was found in South Africa.
Meanwhile, President Lazarus Chakwera is expected to attend the 42nd Ordinary Heads of State and Government Summit which is scheduled to take place in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo from 17th to 18th August 2022 where he will also hand over the chairmanship to the president of DRC, Felix Tshisekedi.