President Lazarus Chakwera who has been in office for about two months now, gave his overview of his vision towards regional integration and development when he delivered a maiden speech during the Southern African Development Community (SADC) virtual conference held on Monday.
Chakwera was the only new president to be welcomed by Heads of State and Government at the SADC's 40th summit virtually held in Maputo, Mozambique.
In his speech, the Malawi leader Chakwera said one of the ways of promoting development and resilience in the region is to turn the late former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa's dream of regional economic integration into reality.
"For us as Malawians, we feel this undeniable bond whenever we travel beyond our borders, which is why I have never accepted that Malawi is land-locked, but rather land-linked, for we are inextricably linked to our SADC brothers on all sides, and I can assure you that we would not have it any other way," said Chakwera.
"All of us as Sub-Saharan African nations feel this brotherhood that binds us very deeply, for it is a brotherhood that predates our colonial borders and transcends our individual statehood. What remains is for us to resolve once and for all to give this brotherhood its fullest expression in the areas of economics and development.
The ideals of SADC are towards a common future within a regional community that will ensure economic wellbeing, improvement of standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice, and peace and security for the people of southern Africa.
"I believe that the combination of strengths and shared values between us in this present moment represents a unique opportunity to achieve this within the next few years, an opportunity worth seizing. I also believe that it is a divine opportunity, for it is by the Providence of God that we are bound to one another by history, culture, and a shared journey of liberation," Chakwera said.
Meanwhile, Mozambique officially assumed the rotating presidency of Sadc.
The summit coincided with the regional economic community's 40th anniversary celebration under the motto "40 Years Building Peace and Security, Promoting Development and Resilience in the Face of Global Challenges."
The predecessor of SADC was created in 1980 as the Southern African Development Coordination Conference, which in 1992 was transformed into the current body comprising 16 member states.