ZIMBABWE has welcomed the suspension of face-to-face regional meetings following the successful video-conferencing of the Sadc Council of Ministers meeting hosted yesterday by the Tanzanian government in Dar-es-Salaam.
This came in the wake of the novel Covid-19, which has killed thousands of people globally. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo commended SADC member states for complementing each other in mobilising resources and equipment to combat coronavirus.
"We welcome the suspension of the face-to-face meeting and the holding of Sadc Council meeting via video conferencing," he said.
"We were supposed to have met in Addis Ababa, but because of coronavirus that has been made impossible. In fact, there was a meeting of ministers of health in Tanzania and one of their major recommendations was to immediately cease regional face-to-face contacts in order to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
"That has made this convention into a technological process which is in video conferencing way. Tanzania has hooked and connected 15-member States where we are having a meeting as usual and this is a process we believe would enhance a lot of conferences in Sadc by adopting technology.''
Minister Moyo said the dominant topic during the meeting was coronavirus and one of the major issues was that each of the countries indicated the stage at which they were fighting the virus.
"We have developed a recommendation as SADC that there should be complementarity in terms of support, both in terms of resources, equipment and joint procurement of items which may be required so that we work as a region to defend against coronavirus," he said.
Minister Moyo hinted that according to speculative information at hand, chances of having cases of coronavirus infection might be found during the approaching winter season. Zimbabwe has no confirmed case of coronavirus. "It has been in a number of countries, but there are certain countries which have not yet received their first cases like Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mauritius," said Minister Moyo.
"It is from the speculation that the virus prefers colder low temperatures, so we may expect, as we approach winter in this country, that is when we might be seeing major cases of coronavirus."
Minister Moyo reiterated that President Mnangagwa made assurances that the country was prepared and had put in place strategies to fight the novel virus.
"We are prepared, as the President has already launched a strategy against that and there are many plans that can be confirmed by the Ministry of Health," he said.
"Therefore, everything is according to plan. As a country, we have been watching global developments on the outbreak of Covid-19 and reiterate Zimbabwe's solidarity with affected countries and continue to urge fellow SADC members and the global community in the fight against this novel pandemic."
SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax extended gratitude to Tanzania for taking urgent measures that enabled them to have the video conference.
She said the swift response by member states to video conferencing demonstrated SADC's readiness to manage emergencies and disasters.
"Our Ministers of Health met on March 9, 2020, to map a regional response to Covid-19," said Dr Tax.
"The meeting shared information and measures taken at national level, and deliberated on how to cooperate at regional level.
Among others, Member States agreed to re-activate the Technical Committee for Coordinating and Monitoring the Implementation of the SADC Protocol on Health, and to expand its terms of reference, to assess and advise on health, social, economic and immigration matters. We urge the Technical Committee to expeditiously and continuously provide the needed advice on this very urgent matter."