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– SABC news

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Extraordinary Summit has approved the mandate to deploy the regional standby force to Mozambique.

The country – which is hosting the meeting – is battling terrorism and insurgents in the northern region of Cabo Delgado.

The 16-member bloc has been grappling with how to respond to the conflict in which thousands have been killed since 2017.

After months of deliberations and disagreements on what would be the best response to the instability and terrorism in the region – a decision to deploy forces has finally been reached.

There are no specific details on how the SADC standby force would be deployed, how many troops would be involved, or when the deployment will begin.

The standby force is part of a regional defence pact that allows military intervention to prevent the spread of conflict.

The summit also urged Mozambique to continue working with humanitarian aid agencies to assist the nearly 800 000 internally displaced people.

Executive Secretary, Stergomena Tax, says:

“The bloc aims to become a middle to high-income region by 2050. This is part of the strategic direction: SADC Vision 2050.”

She says the goal is to ensure that citizens of member states enjoy economic sustainability by mid-century.

Vaccine production

The Summit also committed to enhancing research and manufacturing of pharmaceutical capacity in the region. It recognised the disadvantage of not being able to produce vaccines. Less than 5% of citizens in the SADC region have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as member states continue to struggle with procuring drugs for their inoculation programmes.

Tax says the economic bloc also endorsed South Africa and India’s proposal for a waiver of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 drugs and products.

Earlier this week – the World Health Organisation said South Africa could be producing vaccines in nine to 12 months. This is after the global body announced that the country would be the first location to establish a mRNA technology transfer hub.

President Cyril Ramaphosa promised the hub would service the region and the rest of the continent.

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