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PS Hails COMESA for Peace and Security Programme

 

 

 

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Steven Mwansa has hailed COMESA for the crucial role the region body was playing in enhancing Peace and Security amongst the 19 member states. Mr. Mwansa paid special tribute to the COMESA Peace and Security which has deliberately brought on board the Civil Society and Private Sector Organisations on the programmes as they represent an influential voice in the development and implementation of Government policies.

Speaking in Lusaka recently during the annual Civil Society and Private Sector Organisations review meeting held at Chaminuka, Mr. Mwansa added that the attainment and preservation of peace and security in the COMESA region and the reversal of the economic decline is a responsibility of each and every citizen of the region.  “Comprehensive prevention and resolution of conflicts requires a multiplicity of approaches and actors.  While it is true that we in the Government have the primary responsibility to ensure peace and security within its borders, civil society organisations also have a very important role to play, particularly being close to the grassroots, where most intra-state conflicts start.  The private sector also has an important role to play, such as alleviating poverty, which is a mitigating factor of conflict.  I, therefore, salute COMESA for this initiative which will bring all three actors together through a formal mechanism of engagement”, he said. 

 

Mr. Mwansa urged the Civil Society organizations take an active role in the promotion of peace and security in the region. “It is an opportunity for you to play an important role in contributing to the development of the COMESA Peace and Security Policy.   It also allows you to be involved in developing joint plans of action with state actors in the COMESA region for the attainment of peace and security.  Indeed Government, civil society and the private sector should consider themselves as being on the same side and should refrain from the ‘them against us’ mentality.  I therefore encourage you to not only continue to hold this kind of dialogue amongst yourselves, but to also take the initiative to dialogue with state actors on a regular basis”, Mr. Mwansa said. 

 

And COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya said the aim of the meeting is to enhance COMESA’s partnership with civil society and private sector organizations through improved communication at all levels. The Secretary General said it is expected that in the process, the Civil Society and Private Sector Organisations will find ways to complement each other, review their respective areas of competence and work together to develop collaborative initiatives.  “I wish to assure you of COMESA’s continued co-operation with civil society/private sector, and media organizations, as their proximity to grassroots levels cannot be underestimated. We know that you are in a position to lobby and influence policy makers in your various countries to promote peace and security in the region”, Mr. Ngwenya said. The speech was read on behalf of the Secretary General by Director for Legal Affairs, Mr. Brian Chigawa.

 

 

 

During the Fourth Summit of the COMESA Authority that convened in Nairobi, Kenya in May 1999, a decision was made by COMESA to formally engage in matters of peace and security.  This was in recognition of the fact that conflicts in the sub-region were adversely affecting our regional integration agenda as there cannot be any sustainable development amid violent conflicts. Following the decision, COMESA held various consultations and it became clear that the conflicts in the region are very complex and exhibit the kind of dynamism that calls for multifaceted approaches to address them. The involvement of various stakeholders not only ensures that comprehensive solutions are reached but also ensures that issues affecting peace and security are addressed at grassroots level.

 

 

 

Since 2005 when the Secretariat was directed to disseminate rules of accreditation through holding of national consultation workshops, COMESA has been able to hold national consultations in seventeen countries. These are: Burundi, Comoros, DRC, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Swaziland, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Applications from these countries were reviewed and presented to the Seventh Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs that was held in Djibouti in November 2006 during which 13 organisations were accredited. During the Tenth Meeting of COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs held in August 2010, seven more organizations were accredited.

 

 

 

Ends

 

 

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