Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Monday took over from his Tanzanian counterpart, John Magufuli, as chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Nyusi was invested as the new chairperson during the 40th SADC heads of state summit, held in Maputo. For the first time, this was a virtual summit, held by video-conference between the capitals of the various member states, a format imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. This time, the usual face-to-face meetings between presidents, ministers and their staffs were banished on health grounds.
In his acceptance speech, Nyusi declared that he was accepting the rotating post of chairperson "with great humility, but with a high sense of responsibility and mission".
"In the name of the Mozambican people, I thank you for the honour and trust placed in the country to host this summit and take on the rotating presidency", he said.
Nyusi added that, in the midst of multiple challenges facing the region and the world, SADC had maintained its cohesion and its focus on attaining its goals. He attributed this to the "pragmatism and perspicacity" shown by Magufuli during the year in which he had led SADC.
Nyusi promised to work closely with the other SADC heads of state and government and always keep them informed.
He praised the founders of the regional organisation who "with their intelligence and extraordinary vision contributed to the political and economic liberation of the bloc".
Magufuli told the opening session, in detail, of the advances made by SADC over the past year and praised the member states for continuing to implement regional programmes and projects. He said that SADC will continue to implement its Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP). 2020 is the final year of this plan, which should be replaced by a new one covering the next 30 years.
Magufuli called on all SADC member states to work together to deal with the impacts of Covid-19, and to prepare the organisation for the post-pandemic situation.
The opening speeches were entirely uncontroversial and did not so much as mention the war waged by islamist terrorists in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.