Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Monday handed over the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to his Mozambican counterpart Filipe Nyusi and commended the regional bloc for its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Magufuli commended the SADC member states when he handed over the chair during the 40th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of SADC in a virtual meeting hosted by Tanzania from Chamwino State House in the capital Dodoma.

In his address to the summit, President Magufuli said SADC member states' combined efforts in fighting COVID-19 reduced the impact caused by the pandemic.

"Despite of the outbreak of COVID-19, SADC member states have been able not only to reduce the impact caused by this pandemic but also have been able to continue implementing our regional programs and projects," he said.

He urged the SADC member states to continue working together not only in addressing the COVID-19 impacts but also in preparing for the post-pandemic situation.

According to the SADC secretariat, the regional bloc's economic growth is expected to shrink by an average of about 3.8 percent in 2020, mainly due to the adverse impacts of COVID-19.

The head of state said during the past year as chair of the regional bloc, Tanzania ensured that SADC with a combined population of about 350 million continued to strengthen peace and stability, as well as democracy and good governance.

In her remarks, SADC executive secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax, said a number of milestones were recorded during the past year, including timely development of SADC guidelines on the movement of goods and services across the region amid COVID-19.

"The guidelines greatly contributed to containment of the spread of COVID-19 and facilitated movement of goods, and thus minimizing disruptions to economic activities, and mitigating socio-economic hardships to SADC citizens," said Tax.

On Aug. 17, 2019, Tanzania assumed the chair of SADC from Namibia. SADC is an inter-governmental organization established in 1992 to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among its 16 member states. Enditem