By Banthu Times Chief Reporter 17/08/2013
President Dr. Joyce Banda has pledged to use her tenure of office as chairperson of Sadc to improve agriculture in the region as way of fighting chronic poverty which she says affects women and children most.
Banda said this on Saturday in Lilongwe when she accepted the chairmanship of Sadc, a regional 15 country grouping from southern Africa.
At least six heads of states and governments and many more delegates are attending the conference which started on Saturday and ends on Sunday.
Banda said women and children, including the youth face numerous problems which include unemployment, hunger, poverty, deaths when giving births, lack of education.
“They have lost their dignity, this is not the fault of their own yet these are the citizens of Sadc. They think we don’t work for them…we must fight war against poverty, under development particularly of the rural people,” said Banda amid applause from the delegates who packed the Bingu International Conference Centre.
She said this can only be achieved if there is political tolerance among political leaders, peace and the rule of law, saying time has come to bring Sadc closer to the people by providing the needs of the citizens.
“Sadc is for the people and by the people,” said Banda who has been hailed by both international and local economic experts for transforming for the better the economy of the Malawi which dwindled in the last two years of former president Bingu wa Mutharika tenure of office.The country lacked fuel, forex and food among other key issues pushing the economy to the recess.
But the confident Banda told her fellow heads of state and government that agriculture can turn around the economy of the countries in the Sadc region, hence her decision to embrace the agriculture theme.
She also asked Sadc to speed up a policy which would encourage the free movement of the peoples of the 15-member country.
Banda said with sound policies, engagement of traditional leaders and maximisation of human capital in the health sector, maternal mortality rates can drastically drop in the region.
She gave an example of Malawi where she said the maternal mortality hovered around 1200 per live births but dropped to 460 per live births, saying no country can move forward with high mortality rate and poverty hitting women.
Outgoing chairman of Sadc Almando Guebuza of Mozambique described Banda as a focused, experienced leader who would steer Sadc to new heights to meet expectations of the Sadc citizens.