ZIMBABWE – Two local institutions in Zimbabwe have received funding from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to manufacture COVID-19 protective equipment for the benefit of the wider regional market.

The Covid-19 situation was topical at the Extraordinary SADC Council of Ministers Meeting in Maputo, Mozambique on Tuesday, where it emerged that several countries in the bloc were recording a surge in new infections.

The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Professor Amon Murwira, presented Zimbabwe at the conference, which preceded yesterday’s Extra-Ordinary SADC Heads of States and Governments Summit.

In a post conference update yesterday, Minister Murwira said the Council of Ministers deliberated on how to strengthen collaboration within the region and international partners to increase vaccine acquisition and rollout.

This, including the improved distribution and access of protective equipment is critical if Africa is to achieve the targeted 60 percent vaccinated population by 2022.

“Related to the Covid-19 pandemic, I am happy to note that the Harare Institute of Technology and Sables are two of Zimbabwean institutions that are receiving funding through SADC for the manufacture of protective equipment,” said Prof Murwira without disclosing the figures.

We are ready to export these products in the region and we are showcasing them at our exhibition stand during the SADC Business Forum.”

The meeting also stressed the importance of stepping up research on the use of African traditional medicines as well as the call for the waiver of Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights at the World Trade Organisation to allow the manufacture of vaccines in the region, he said.

Prof Murwira also said regional ministers considered progress in the implementation of decisions of past meetings concerning the Regional Indicative Strategic Plan 2020-2030, operationalisation of the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, operationalization of the SADC Humanitarian Coordination and Emergency Response Centre and the food security situation. The ongoing fight against HIV and AIDS in the region as well as gender and development issues also came under focus.

We further noted progress in the programming of the 2021 to 2027 EU Multiannual Financial Framework and measures to strengthen SADC co-operation with the EU,” said the minister.

He also said the ministers were updated on progress in the recruitment of the next SADC executive secretary as the incumbent, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax’s second term of office ends on 31 August 2021.

Two candidates from Botswana and the DRC were interviewed for the post on 10 June 2021 and a full report and recommendations will be submitted to our next meeting and subsequently to the Heads of State and Government Summit in August 2021,” said Prof Murwira.