THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) senior officials yesterday agreed to strengthen the protocol on the control of firearms, ammunition and other related materials, to heighten regional safety and security.
The senior officials, consisting of Permanent Secretaries, their deputies and ministries' experts, resolved that improving the protocol was essential in controlling illegal importation of the small arms.
"We have agreed that this issue has to have a protocol, which could really control the illegal importation of small arms, which contribute to robbery in our region.
The existing protocol needs to be strengthened," Tanzania's Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Constitution and Legal Affairs, Prof Sifuni Mchome stated after the one-day meeting held through videoconferencing.
The SADC member states agreed on the protocol in 2001 and it entered into force in November 2004.
It was the first African regional small arms agreement to become legally binding.
The Regional Coordinating Committee was established under the auspices of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) in 2007.
The primary objective of the protocol is to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of firearms, ammunition and other related materials.
It also seeks to regulate the import and export of legal small arms and thus curb the transit of these weapons into, and within the region.
In addition, the protocol aims for the harmonisation of national legislation across member states on the manufacture and ownership of small arms and light weapons.
The yesterday's senior officials meeting also discussed protocol on employment and labour as well as protocol on statistics.
Their meeting preceded that of the justice ministers committee, which sat in the afternoon.
The ministers were scheduled to receive and discuss recommendations from the senior officials.
According to Prof Mchome, who chaired the meeting, the participants observed that ratification and implementation of the protocol on employment and labour at national level faced challenges due to shortfalls in the protocol itself.
"We have agreed that we should develop a new protocol that would help us in this area," he stated.
On statistics, Prof Mchome said the meeting sat to discuss recommendations for improving the protocol.
Upon discussion, the meeting resolved to bring the protocol and its recommendations back to the responsible sectorial meeting for consideration.
Prof Mchome further noted that the SADC senior officials have resolved that security organs of member states should cooperate for the sake of security in the Member Countries.
He said their meeting was successful and participants had mutual agreements on most agenda items.