The 21st Southern African Development committee (SADC) meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) on Politics, Defence and Security cooperation has opened in Lusaka.

And SADC Executive Secretary, Stergomena Tax has expressed concern with gravity of terrorism and sophiscated cross border organized crime, which she said if not addressed the vice poses a significant threat to peace and security in the region.

ZANIS reports that Dr Tax disclosed that to address this, the secretariat in collaboration with member states has developed a SADC Regional Counter Terrorism Strategy and Action Plan.

Meanwhile, Ms Tax has called for urgent strengthened Disaster Preparedness and timely response in the region and that members states should enhance collaborations in addressing terrorism and sophiscated organized crime in the region.

She said  to this effect, SADC Chairperson Hage Geingob who is also Namibian President has launched a regional humanitarian appeal to support recovery and rehabilitation efforts in communities affected by cyclones Idai and Kenneth early this year.

“This appeal follows the loss of lives, disruption of livelihoods and widespread damage to socio-economic infrastructure because of the devastating impacts of the two cyclones, “she said.

She disclosed that through the humanitarian appeal combined with National humanitarian appeal, 204 million United States Dollars has been raised for the affected countries, which include Madagascar, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and the Union of the Comoros.

“In this regard, the region has taken the lessons learnt from the effects of the cyclones seriously and measures to operationalize the SADC Disaster Preparedness and Response Mechanism (DPRM),” she added.

She cited the operationalization of the SADC Disaster Preparedness and Response Fund which is in line with resource mobilization strategy and the sustainability plan.

And also the establishment of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergence Operations Centre (SHOC) among others as some of the measures which will result in to a comprehensive and well-coordinated response.

And Dr Tax has thanked the SADC Chairperson on Politics, Defense and Security cooperation President Edgar Lungu for the exemplary leadership in steering the region, during the demanding electoral period when six member states held elections.

She named the countries Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Kingdom of Eswatini, Republic of Madagascar, Malawi, South Africa and the Union of Comoros.

She congratulated the respective member states and government for the credible and peaceful elections, and for upholding SADC democratic principles, adding that the historic and peaceful transfer of power was celebrated in and outside the region, marked a new era for economic prosperity, peace and political stability in the DRC.

She further disclosed that the 21st meeting will receive reports on progress recorded in moving the SADC organ agenda forward following the decisions made last meeting, which was held in June 2018 in Angola.

Dr  Tax added that the meeting is expected to also receive progress reports on the implementation of the Strategic Indicative for the Organ (SIPO) covering the period 2016-2019 among others.

And Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Malanji who is also the Chairperson for the Ministerial Committee expressed happiness that the region has remained relatively stable and peaceful while promoting the shared values of peace, security democracy and good governance.

Mr Malanji disclosed that Zambia remains committed to ensuring that it contributes to the promotion of  peace and stability by sending observe missions to countries that are holding elections in line with SADC principles and guidelines.

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