Zambian Civil Societies to Play Greater Role in Peace and Security

Chisamba, Zambia, Monday 16 November 2020: Over ten civil society and private sector organizations in Zambia are participating in a two-day national consultation workshop to enhance their role in the COMESA Peace and Security programme as the country prepares to hold general elections in 2021.

COMESA in collaboration with the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) have organized the workshop as part of efforts to strengthen the collaboration with CSOs, ECOSOCC and the African Union. This is in addition to establishing a Civil Society National Chapter for ECOSOCC.

The workshop is expected to enhance the capacity of Zambia’s CSOs for better engagement in matters of peace and security in line with the African Union 2020 theme of silencing the Guns. It will also enhance CSOs engagement with the Zambian Bureau on the implementation of the COMESA Early Warning System (COMWARN). The participants will also review the accreditation of local CSOs to the COMESA Programme on Peace and Security.

Head of Governance, Peace and Security (GPS) at COMESA Secretariat Ms Elizabeth Mutunga said the Unit was tasked to ensure the involvement of private sector and civil society organisations on matters of peace and security on a consultative basis. Subsequently, the Rules of Procedure were developed for accreditation to the COMESA Peace and Security Programme.

Once CSOs are accredited to the COMESA programme, the Secretariat provides numerous opportunities to meet and share experiences and to review the impact of the accreditation. Through the years, the Secretariat has collaborated with these organisations to develop and implement some of the current programmes in GPS. Key to note is the programme on building the capacity of Member States to address war economies which accredited CSOs participated in developing.

Accredited organisations also helped during the conceptualisation of the COMESA Early Warning System. The Secretariat has also benefited from their support in activities such as training of COMESA election observers and small-scale cross border traders.

“You will be pleased to know that out of all accredited organisations, Zambia has provided us the greatest support and in addition they have involved us in their programmes and activities, particularly the Southern African Center for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD),” Ms Mutunga said.

Over the last two years, SACCORD has also been involved in assisting COMESA and the African Union to advance the implementation of structural vulnerability assessments in Zambia, she added.

So far, similar national consultations have been held in 16 countries, including Burundi, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Applications from these countries and Twenty Organizations have been accredited to the programme.

The workshop will involve presentations on COMESA Conflict Prevention, Conflict Management, Post-Conflict, Reconstruction and Development, Democratization and the Maritime Security. The Civil Society Organisations will also make presentations on their mandate, scope and current programmes which they are implementing

Head of Programmes for the ECOSOCC, Mr. Nana Kyeretwire addressed the delegates.