Allow me to pay homage to a fallen hero and icon of African liberation, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Benjamin Mkapa, to whom Namibians owe a debt of gratitude for his role in our independence. The late President Mkapa dedicated his life to strengthening democratic governance in Africa, as well as the pursuit of economic emancipation for the people of our continent. Without question, the invaluable contributions of this outstanding luminary have left an indelible mark on our region and the continent at large. I therefore express my condolences to the Mkapa family, the fraternal people of Tanzania, the SADC Region and the African Union.
Your Excellency Chairperson,
Following the announcement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of the global pandemic, our Health Ministers, both at the continental and regional level, recommended that face-to-face meetings should be discontinued. The reality is that we have now adjusted to meeting virtually, a challenge to multilateral diplomacy and Pan-African solidarity. Although social distancing has become the current norm, this global pandemic has highlighted the importance of people-centered development programmes. The lives and health of our citizens remain our priority in the fight against COVID-19.
No doubt, our Governments have made unprecedented sacrifices to mitigate the effects of this viral pandemic. Such sacrifices include the closing of borders, lockdowns and curfews, and the closing of schools, to mention but a few.
As developing countries, we diverted funding towards our respective COVID-19 responses, something that none of us expected to do when the outbreak started. In the midst of the global crisis, Governments, citizens and civil society organizations have shown remarkable solidarity, especially in helping the most vulnerable members of our societies.
Individuals, NGOs, churches, and the private sector all rallied together to assist the poor, the homeless, including those without access to clean drinking water. The tremendous support of the private sector during these trying times has further highlighted the need for the Region to ensure that we put in place more effective mechanisms for engaging our private sector.
To date, Namibia has recorded 4,154 positive COVID-19 cases. Of these, 2,370 have recovered, while 1,749 remain active. Sadly, we have lost 35 of our people to the pandemic.
Namibia, like other countries has experienced job losses as a result of the pandemic. However, there are opportunities to re-skill and up-skill our people to leverage the prospects that come from new technology. The region must therefore continue to cooperate and explore new strategies to revive our economies.
As I conclude, I wish to emphasize that we must remain resolute and emerge from this pandemic better equipped and prepared to deal with any future threats. Our unity and the pursuit of regional integration must remain at the forefront of our actions in order to build a stronger and more prosperous region.
I am therefore pleased to note that the Region adopted SADC Guidelines to ensure the continued transportation of all goods, products and services in our region, and in the tripartite area of SADC, COMESA and EAC, in the midst of the pandemic.
I thank you.