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 participated in a two-day national consultation workshop on 16-17 November 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) organized the workshop as part of efforts to strengthen collaboration with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the African Union. This is in addition to establishing a Civil Society National Chapter for ECOSOCC in Zambia.

Under this initiative, the capacity of Zambia’s CSOs will be enhanced for better engagement in matters of peace and security in line with the African Union 2020 theme of Silencing the Guns. It will also improve the CSOs engagement with the Zambian Bureau on the implementation of the COMESA Early Warning System (COMWARN). During the same workshop, the participants reviewed the accreditation of local CSOs to the COMESA Programme on Peace and Security (GPS).

The The GPS programme was tasked to ensure the involvement of private sector and civil society organisations on matters of peace and security on a consultative basis. Thereafter, the Rules of Procedure were developed for accreditation to the COMESA Peace and Security Programme.

Head of the Unit, Ms. Elizabeth Mutunga told the participants that 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. Over the years, the Secretariat has collaborated with these organisations to develop and implement some of the current programmes in GPS. Among them is the programme on building the capacity of Member States to address war economies which the 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,” Ms Mutunga said.

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.

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