The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has appointed a four-member Panel of Elders that will act as an advisory body on political and conflict resolution issues in the region.
The Panel of Elders (PoE) comprises former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete, former Mauritian vice president Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, ex-Zimbabwean justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, and ex-Botswana foreign minister Charles Tibone.
According to outgoing chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, the members of the panel would have four-year terms each.
He said the appointments are in line with a decision of the 41st Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government held in Malawi in August 2021 to establish a body that would advise the region on political issues.
Masisi also announced the four members of the SADC Mediation Reference Group (MRG). These are former Botswana ambassador to Australia, Molosiwa Selepeng; ex-Zambian ambassador to Italy, Lucy Mungoma; former Zimbabwe ambassador to Belgium, Andrew Mtetwa; and Hellen Lwegasira a mediation and negotiation expert from Tanzania.
The two structures comprise of eminent personalities that include former heads of state and government and former government ministers who were appointed for their reputable and demonstrable political and technical expertise in conflict resolution, preventative diplomacy and mediation, Masisi said.
The PoE and MRG are part of the SADC Mediation and Conflict Prevention and Preventative Diplomacy structure that was established in 2004 to foster political and security stability in the region through the prevention and resolution of significant inter-state and intra-state conflicts.
Masisi urged SADC policy and decision-making structures to make use of the expertise of the SADC PoE and MRG.
Kikwete is chair the PoE and will be deputised by Vyapoory, while Mungoma chairs the MRG and her deputy will be Lwegasila.