[Newsletter]: Special Bulletin- SADC People\’s Summit August 2021

SAPSN is a Southern African Regional network that gathers development NGOs and institutions, many civil society organisations such as trade unions, churches, community-based movements. This year\’s summit was themed: \”Elevate Justice & Equality\” and is happening in Lilongwe in Malawi, as a hybrid event with both in-person and online events. Our chapter in Malawi represented our region on the drafting committee to the communique which you will find attached to this newsletter. 
The aim of this special Bulletin is to share the events RWA hosted and the experiences each country chapter in the region had in the SAPSN week of meetings.

What\’s the significance of this meeting and the outcomes for the communique?

Hear an account from our sisters across the region on their input and take-aways from the Summit.


Lesotho was a participant in the events that were taking place on zoom during the SAPSN week, this event was from democratization of Eswatini to FISP program in our region. So many burning issues came up from the speakers to the participants.

Democratization of Eswatini

It is very important for SADC to involve all stakeholders in participation of the type of government they would want to have and advocacy should be open to all citizens without fear or favour. There is no accountability for member states and not so much action is done by the government to bring solutions. The absolute monarchy has brought dictatorship government where the King is the only person who elects the prime minister and government workers and officials. The government is imposed on the people. Inequality is the highest in Eswatini as there is no even distribution of wealth, high unemployment in graduates to an extend that they have un employable graduates.

“There is only one source of power and that source of power is in the authorities.”

Over 70 confirmed people died and SADC does not seem to care about the masses, it only cares about the elite. Education is not free and the health sector is collapsing. The voices of the people of Swaziland is been suffocated.

“It is time SADC worries about the people of the region and not the leaders of the region.”

King’s proclamation has brought Swaziland to where it is today, the proclamation amongst others brought the absolute monarchy system that is still in existence today, abhorrence of political parties which made political accountability to disappear, high level of efficiency leading to poverty and oppression. There is a need of international community interference.

Food Dialogues

The food policy for Africa that is developed with the help of AFSA which is working in 50 of the 55-member states of Africa, wants it to be a champion of family farming. The food policy is developed to have sustainable healthy diets, to promote all dimensions of individuals health and well-being, have low environmental pressure impact, should be accessible, affordable, safe and equitable and culturally acceptable.

It is clear that the sub Saharan region is characterised by the marginal economies, poverty, inequality, food insecurity and poor status of human development. The region is faced with low food production and productivity, fragmental land holding and high cost of production. Our current food system model does not ensure food for all. Uneven distribution of land is still a problem especially to women headed households. Access to land is very important for producing food.


Issues from different countries around the program were raised and we had case studies from countries like Mozambique and Zambia. The issues were almost the same the FISP was designed to achieve food security and increase production, and the target was vulnerable small-scale farmers. But in Zambia the notion changed and it is now famous for targeting viable farmers.

Seeds and fertilizers are now been sold and the prices are high for small scale farmers which is decreasing agricultural production in our different countries. The program seems to be having too much of political interference as it used as a tool to win elections. In most countries that have reached the 10% of their national budget allocated to agriculture sector seems to have a problem of only focusing on FISP and not other programs like water retention. There is a need to have our own local seeds been promoted and made available like the GMO seeds and organic fertilizers together with pesticides this are some of the alternatives that need to be looked at in order to resolve the problems that have been caused by the program.


The RWA Zimbabwean chapter joined other regional countries in participating in the 2021 SADC People’s Summit under the theme “Bolstering, Productive Capacities in the Face of Covid 19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation” from the 17th to the 19th of August 2021. The was followed by a week of learning for all SAPN members. The purpose of participating in the Southern African Support Network was to collectively engage SADC heads of states who were  meeting at the same period for the purpose of influencing  policy direction and control of functions of the SADC.  The summit therefore becomes very strategic for civil society to converge and strategize on their collective advocacy issues that are presented through a decree/ Charter of demands/ communique meant to hold heads of states accountable and answerable to their citizenry.

The official opening was conducted in Malawi where skeletal participants were present but the bulk of participants connected virtually due to covid 19 induced restrictions. The proceedings were also live streamed  on social media platforms  facebook and whatsApp. The Zimbabwean chapter started to connect on the 17th of August were the discussions were centred around topical and current issues that are affecting rural women farmers and how these could be addressed. Some of the issues discussed include the impact of natural disasters (floods, cyclones, drought and pandemics like Covid 19).  The participants who included farmers, funding partners and other women’s organisations discussed how women have been impacted by these factors in their businesses. They further came up with alternatives and climate resilience strategies .

Closely linked to the discussion on pandemics were discussions on the devastating effects that include child marriages, increase in GBV cases as spouses were together all the time. This gave the abusers the opportunity to take advantage of their victims who are spending most of their time together and this mostly affects girls and women. Around the same period the country was still grappling to come to terms with the passing on of Anna Machaya ( a 14 year old married to an old religious man) who lost her life trying to give birth. It was one of the common issues that were an everyday occurrence in rural Zimbabwe but also a common phenomenon in the SADC region.  So, these socio, economic and environmental issues were discussed at length with the view to seek audience with the African heads of States who have the responsibility of seeing that certain legislative instrument are adhered to and translated to lived reality.


The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme was also introspected looking at the benefits that have accrued since its launch in 2003 through Maputo declaration that ran up to 2015. The same was extended from 2016 to 2025 through Malabo Declaration. The Commission discussed the achievements and shortcomings and sought to get answers why this commitment has not been able to transform the agriculture sector especially small holder farmers in the region.

During the second day in the first part of the day the food dialogue was discussed which resulted in an analysis of the African Food System versus the Global system. The conversation was around food security, food sovereignty, source of food being consumed in the region, how it is produced and processed, availability and accessibility. Those questions were raised in relation to the effort by rural women who toil day and night to provide food.

The dialogue revealed how the African food system has been evaded by capitalists and around the wrong narrative that has resulted in the African population believing good quality food and food security can only be achieved through inclusion and involvement of major companies. The truth of the matter is that these companies have the means, technology and value addition equipment that allows them to produce bulk junk food that is not good enough health wise. This explains why we are now experiencing dietary related ailments like diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases and obesity. During the same meeting it washighlighted that African policies are developed on a wrong narrative that is influenced by outsiders, no ground level innovations reflected in them, lack of coherence in the policies and very little space for stakeholders like movements and civil society input.

 In the afternoon the meeting continued focussing on key regional issues that were affecting the political stability especially Democracy in the region. The situation in Eswatini and the disturbances in Carbo De Galdo Mozambique took the centre stage. These occurrences were seen as the major source of destabilization in the Southern African Region where the democratic principles are always not respected by the leaders who were described as greed and dictatorial in their style of leadership. The meetings also shared some disturbing stories in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa and Malawi on land grabs,displacements and land repossessions in the rural marginalised communities.. It is disheartening to see that Africa is still being seen as the provider of natural resources but the region is not benefiting from the resources. Cases of thousands of families being displaced in Chilonga, in Mutoko, Dinde and prioritising mining in Shurugwi in Zimbabwe were major concerns discussed at length.. Malawi sisters shared how land in their country was sold at pathetic figures as little as 30 000 kwacha per hectare leaving the marginalised communities living on less than a hectare in the Southern parts of the country.



On the occasion of the SAPSN, on August 18, 2021, during the exchange and sharing sessions, the national leader of RWA Madagascar made her contribution through a presentation. This presentation focused on land grabbing, land insecurity and extractivism, from the perspective of rural women in Madagascar. These themes were addressed because of their relevance to the current context in which Madagascar finds itself. It is worth recalling that 80% of the Malagasy population lives from farming in rural areas, and 40% of farmers are women. Unfortunately, the Malagasy society remains patriarchal and conservative in its customs and religious practices. Rural women are victims of this, as they are discriminated: they do not inherit land, and the land they do own is not registered in their name. Women are vulnerable and their rights are hardly protected, and this situation is further aggravated by the government leaning more and more towards extractivist policy. This policy does not promote the participation of rural women in decision-making regarding mining projects. Yet women are already victims of the land insecurity mentioned above, and extractivism is an additional threat to their land. Hence the importance of addressing these issues at an event such as SAPSN, as we are all aware of the devastating effects already suffered by rural women due to climate change, but in addition they are vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic and mining projects, which will further weaken their ability to face the repercussions of climate change. That is why, at the August 18 online rally, rural women in Madagascar expressed their demand to see real support from the government to strengthen food and land security, and also urged SADC member countries to recognize communities\’ rights to their land and natural resources.



The Eswatini chapter was able to join virtually to follow on SAPN meetings of which one was hosted by rural women Eswatini chapter on the current crisis in Eswatini. Eswatini is an absolute monarch where the king rules in a despotic manner and the people after continued human rights violations decided that it is enough of the oppression. This was followed by a series of protests in the  rural areas where then armed forces killed over 70 people in one day injuring more than 200 people and shops being burnt by angry protestors. This call for change was supported by 3 members of parliament who two of them are currently behind bars charged with terrorism act and are denied bail.

The SADC troika team visited the country in a fact finding mission which till to date they have not responded to the cries they received from the civil society including the rural women. We had tout during the SADC meeting the head of states will together talk to the Eswatini issue but nothing was even said about the unrest in the meeting.

The Eswatini chapter have been mobilizing and organizing rural communities to stand up in demand for their rights. During the people’s summit the RWA Eswatini Chapter hosted a mass meeting on the democratization of Eswatini which mainly focused on what befell Swazis and unpacking what need to be done in the process for change.

The SRWA had also written a statement on the unrest which was published was also published in the Eswatini newspaper reader.


RWA Copperbelt, Zambia.

Southern Africa drawn from grassroots movements, community-based organizations, faith based organizations, women’s organizations, labor, students, youths, civil society organizations, economic justice and human rights networks and other social movements in the region; gathered at the SADC People’s Summit convened under the Southern Africa People’s Solidarity Network (SAPSN); at CROSSROADS HOTEL, in Lilongwe, Malawi, from the 17th-19th of August 2021, under the theme “ELEVATE JUSTICE AND EQUALITY

The Summit aimed to take stock of progress made in promoting and deepening Regional Integration in line with SADC’s aspirations as espoused in the RISDP 2020–2030 and Vision 2050, which envisage a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle- to high-income industrialized Region where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic well-being, justice, and freedom.


Mumbwa – Shibuyunji RWA Zambia

The Summit provided a platform for various listed CSOs and other NGOs to voice and document for submission to SADC issues and feedback in relation to social challenges faced in Southern Africa. Many organizations including RWA Zambia took part virtually on ZOOM from 17th August – 27th August and gave their input. Over 50 sisters streamed from Ndola, Mumbwa and Chongwe – Rufunsa and gave them their contributions alongside fellow sisters from other country chapters member to RWA Southern Africa.  Among the contributions, RWA Zambia leadership brought out the following contributions to the RWA Southern Africa.

Mumbwa – Shibuyunji RWA Zambia

RWA Zambia Contributions

1. There is need to consider / recognize women grown crops in all aspects including marketing.

2. Government in SADC to include Agro-Ecology in the policy documents and support it as a best method of agriculture for food security, nutrition and sovereignty

3. Government to develop mechanisms to inequality between rural and urban dwellers is reduced. Rural areas to enjoy the same rights as urban people in terms infrastructure and the alike

4. Woman need to be on the decision-making table not just structures

5. Climate change to be gender responsive

6. Women small scale farmers say no to GMO 7. Equal distribution of land among youths’, women and men

7. Equal distribution of land among youths’, women and men.

Chongwe-Rufunsa RWA Zambia



The Southern Africa People’s Solidarity Network (SAPSN) hosted the Southern African Development Community (SADC) People’s Summit in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Rural Assembly women (RWA) were involved and part of the meetings that occurred. The women were able to participate for three days. The first day was the official opening of the people’s summit. One of the first remarks that were made touched on the aim of the summit that is for the poor and a summit that brings together Civil Society Organizations, farmer groups, people affected by mining activities from the mining communities and a lot more marginalized groups constitute the network. Issues that are affecting the region are presented to the head of state and government.

On the first day the Malawi Rural Women’s Assembly had their own table in which they displayed a number of seeds. And some of these seeds were indigenous; it attracted a lot of attention as people were interested in the health benefits of the various seeds that were displayed. The women gladly shared information to the people and explained what the movement is doing to preserve seeds as women are guardians of land, life seeds and love.

On the second day, the women had their own breakaway session as they were part of the SAPSN: food Dialogue Panel Discussion. This dialogue was conducted on zoom and representatives from various countries in the assembly were able to present about pressing issues. The countries that presented were; Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and Malawi. The presentation from Malawi tackled on;

  • Farm inputs and the food prices are increasing on a daily basis. Fertilizer prices have gone up from MK18, 000.00 to MK40, 000.00. Rural women in Malawi depend on agriculture and hence the price factor is a major challenge.
  • Affordable Input Programme (AIP) database cleaning has reduced number of intended beneficiaries to 3, 675,972 from 4,279,100 for this year\’s implementation process
  • Food prices have also gone up e.g cooking oil.

The women were also briefed about seed policy. How enumerators were selected and what is delaying the process.

The seed policy implemented has not yet started as local seeds are still not recognised at national level. RWA members feel that government is just promoting multinational companies like MOSANTO and SEEDCO.

In conclusion, His Excellency Dr Lazarus Chakwera, the President of Malawi after the SAPSN meeting reversed the decision of reducing number of Affordable Input Programme AIP beneficiaries.


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