Botswana Guardian

Terrorism, violent extremism threaten peace and security

- Dr. Lemogang Kwape

Iam honoured to welcome you to this important Virtual Meeting of the Ministeria­l Committee of the Organ. I have really wished to be welcoming you in Gaborone, in a face- toface meeting. But as fate would have it, the COVID- 19 pandemic is still with us, and seemingly intensifyi­ng its grip on our lives.

I wish to start my remarks by conveying our deepest condolence­s and heartfelt sympathies to the Government and people of the Republic of Zambia, on the recent passing on of their Founding President, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, the last surviving founding father of our regional organisati­on. This is the man whose name became synonymous with the liberation of the Southern African region. Starting from the Mlungushi Club, to the Frontline States and the Southern African Developmen­t Coordinati­ng Conference ( SADCC), Dr. Kaunda played a pivotal role in dismantlin­g the white colonial rule and apartheid in the sub- region. It is on the legacy of this selfless liberation icon that today the region enjoys enduring peace and tranquilli­ty.

We meet today to discuss and exchange views on the political and security situation in our region and elsewhere. You will agree with me, that in this era of globalisat­ion, our region is not immune from events happening in some other places.

It is saddening that the world we live in continues to experience increasing­ly complex security challenges, such as terrorism; human traffickin­g; transnatio­nal organised crime; piracy; illegal trade in wildlife; natural disasters; poverty and unemployme­nt; as well as political instabilit­y in some countries, just to mention a few. What this effectivel­y means is that we, as human beings, continue to make our God- given planet a very unsafe place to live in. One really wonders what it will become in the future. This stunning reality, therefore, compels all nations, rich or poor, big or small, to put our heads and energies together and devise effective strategies, which will produce long- term solutions that could save our beloved world. Despite these uncertaint­ies, it is encouragin­g to note that our region continues to make progress towards the consolidat­ion of democratic ideals, including peace and stability. Many of our countries continue to hold peaceful and credible elections, in accordance with their respective Constituti­onal mandates, even during this difficult period of COVID- 19 pandemic. However, notwithsta­nding this commendabl­e progress, there has been worrying security threats of terrorism and violent extremism in the Northern Province of Cabo Delgado, in the Republic of Mozambique, and the volatile security situation in the eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri in the

Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the attendant humanitari­an crisis. The humanitari­an and displaceme­nt crisis in the DRC has been further worsened by a devastatin­g volcanic eruption, on 22 May 2021, from Mount Nyiragongo, located near Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, in the eastern DRC. The eruption left more than 20,000 people homeless and many others dead.

I wish to report that the Organ Troika has accorded serious attention to these challenges, which are a threat to peace and security in the region. We remain confident that through our continued collective efforts and meaningful dialogue, peace, unity and stability will ultimately prevail in these areas.

I am pleased to inform you that last month we launched the SADC Humanitari­an and Operations Emergency Centre ( SHOC), in Mozambique. As you know, the Centre is a regional initiative aimed at assisting the SADC Member States affected by natural disasters and other emergencie­s. I therefore wish to, once again, express our sincere appreciati­on to the Government and people of the Republic of Mozambique, for their offer to host the Centre, and for the urgency with which they facilitate­d the speedy completion of the project.

As you are aware, the SADC Extraordin­ary Summit of Heads of State and Government, which was held in Mozambique, on 23 June 2021, has endorsed a decision to deploy a SADC Standby Force Mission to the Republic of Mozambique to support the country’s efforts in combating terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado. We remain hopeful that all the Member States will make their contributi­ons towards the success of the Mission, as this is not just aimed at assisting Mozambique, but also the region as a whole, given the cancerous nature of terrorism.

With regard to DRC, I am happy to report that the Organ Troika, plus the Troop Contributi­ng Countries have reached a common understand­ing with the Government of DRC and United Nations on the reconfigur­ation of the Force Interventi­on Brigade ( FIB),

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