President Lazarus Chakwera has described the energy insecurity in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) as a threat to democracy and challenged lawmakers in the region to find solutions to the crisis.
Chakwera was speaking in Lilongwe Monday during the official opening of the 51st Plenary Assembly Session of the Sadc Parliamentary Forum (Sadc-PF), which started on July 7 and is expected to end on July 16.
Chakwera, who is Sadc Chairperson, said the Russia-Ukraine conflict has exposed vulnerability and insecurity in the energy sector in the region.
He told the assembly of Sadc legislators that, in democracy, gains could not be consolidated when people are struggling with energy needs due to scarcity, inequitable distribution and ever-increasing prices.
“We cannot progress when we are so stuck in reverse that a programme meant to electrify our people in rural areas only exerts more pressure on the national grid that’s already failing to meet present demands,” he said.
Chakwera expressed hope that, through the Plenary Assembly Session, stakeholders would find meaningful solutions to energy problems and hailed cordial relations among Sadc member states.
Turning to Malawi, Chakwera said the country has felt the turbulence of a disrupted global economy as well as other challenges in recent years, including Cyclone Idai in 2019, a disputed presidential election on May 19 2019 which triggered protests and a court battle.
Sadc-PF President Mboso N’kodia Christophe said the 51st Plenary Assembly’s theme, ‘Towards Energy Efficiency, Sustainability and Self- Sufficiency in the Sadc Region’, reflects current concerns about energy, climate change and food security.
“The deliberations on this theme will allow parliamentarians to make innovative proposals to our respective governments,” he said.
N’kodia added that, in order to guarantee autonomy in energy production, it was the responsibility of legislators to promote legislation that favours the energy sector.
Speaking earlier, Malawi Parliament Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara urged Sadc countries to work on and embrace home-grown solutions to current challenges and abandon negative narratives about the nations.
This is the fourth Plenary Assembly for Malawi to host, having hosted other assemblies in 2000, 2007 and 2012.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.