By Tione Andsen
Lilongwe, March 30, Mana: Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states have been challenged to develop and apply a common strategy, to reverse the negative impact of COVID-19.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nancy Tembo made the remarks Wednesday during the opening of a meeting of SADC Ministers responsible for Employment and Labour and Social Partners at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
She noted that COVID-19 pandemic has eroded many gains, achieved in the last two decades within the region.
Tembo added that many workers, as well as employers, have lost their lives and the impact has affected and continues to affect, the region negatively.
“Many jobs have been lost, businesses lost, productivity of many companies has stalled, and child labour in our region exacerbated,” the Minister pointed out
She added that, “We must see the pandemic as an opportunity to engage development partners to capacitate us, to produce vaccines needed for our region,” she suggested.
Tembo said there need to invest in economic stimulus packages, adopt pro-employment budgeting; extend social protection coverage; enhance strategic safety and health measures.
The Minister called for adaptation innovative measures to protect jobs and incomes; address challenges, associated with transformative change of the world of work; and adopt measures to mitigate against climate change, and harness demographic change.
She said the development of a SADC Protocol, on Employment and Labour, with a vision to establish common approaches, in the implementation of International Labour Standards, and promote active labour market policies, for skills development and job creation, was critical for the region.
Tembo spelt the need to develop an instrument, that accommodates a whole spectrum of policy orientation of member states.
Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration at SADC Secretariat, Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo said the proposed Revised SADC Code of Conduct on Child Labour, which seeks to strengthen measures to eradicate child labour.
He added it was worth noting that as a region we have made significant strides in addressing the drivers of child labour, including through improved labour administration services, improved and responsive education systems, implementation of preventive measures both in law and practice in all member states.
The meeting was being held under the theme “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation”.