By David Kisanga:9/7/15

Eight former African presidents are expected to take part in a four-day regional conference on global peace leadership scheduled for Zanzibar later this month.

The conference is expected to chart strategies aimed at reducing conflict, build social cohesion and promote ethical governance through moral and innovative leadership.

Scheduled to begin on July 21, the conference will be hosted by Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein and also attended by top government, religious and business leaders and other influential public figures.

Briefing newsmen in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) country director, Arnold Kashembe mentioned some of the eight former African Heads of State expected to attend the conference as Rupiah Banda and Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), Joyce Banda (Malawi), Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Benjamin Mkapa, Amani Abeid Karume (Tanzania), Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria) and Sir James Mancham (Seychelles)

President Dr Joyce Banda speaking during the African Leaders Forum On Disability at BICC-Pic By Stanley Makuti

Kashembe said the event had come at the right time when the East African regionwas witnessing a rise in intra-state and inter-state conflicts in recent decades.

The theme of the conference is “Promoting Peace, Security and Sustainable Development in East Africa: A Call to Moral and Innovative Leadership”.

He said each of these had taken a huge toll in terms of lost human lives, suffering of refugees and internally displaced people, and the destruction of the social fabric, physical infrastructures and natural resources in the region.

Kashembe stressed that in response to this grave challenge to the security and welfare of the East African peoples, they saw the need to partner with the government of Zanzibar, the East African Community (EAC) and the inter-governmental authority on development to make the conference a successful one.

He said that leaders from the public, private sector and faith-based communities would deliberate on the best practices and proven models that advance social and political stability, guided by the vision of one family under God.

“The conference will build on the foundation of GPF’s robust track record in peace building, youth leadership development, and extensive partnership networks and will focus on moral and innovative leadership, identity-based conflict reduction with interfaith partnerships and youth entrepreneurship, leadership and service,” he said.

Kashembe mentioned the expected outcome from the conference as improved inter-faith collaboration that would mitigate identity-based violence and extremism and regional partnership linkages between East Africa and the Middle East nations for strategic cooperation in peace-building, trade development and social cohesion.

Others are to increase commitment to regional stability and economic progress that would empower young leaders in the region and enhance contributions to regional integration and progress toward sustainable development goals and peace.

For her part, GPF country representative, Martha Nghambi said that Tanzania had recently become one of the few African countries that had continued to mobilise other countries to maintain peace.

She said the decision makers are going to give lectures on different topics and explain deeply on the various ways of maintaining peace in the region.
“Peace is an asset that needs to be protected at any cost, we should also see that peace and stability go in line with the respect of the principles of human rights,” she said.

According to her, the launch of the Africa Leadership Mission on Peace building Young Leadership and Service will also offer a forum for some of Africa’s leading statesmen, faith leaders, youth and business leaders to harness their collective knowledge to advance the cause of peace by mitigating identity-based conflict and empowering youth.

However, Nghambi said that at least 400 youth from East Africa were also expected to attend so as to give more support in countering the menace of radicalisation of young people in the region.