GABORONE, 28 January 2021 – One prime minister and ten cabinet ministers of member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have died from COVID-19 over the last fortnight.

The former prime minister of Eswatini, Ambrose Mandulo Dlamini, is the highest-ranking government official in the SADC sub-region to have succumbed to the virus.

Ambrose Mandulo Dlamini, PM Eswatini. Photo Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ambrose Mandulo Dlamini, PM Eswatini. Photo Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Dlamini died last December 13 from complications from the new coronavirus while receiving medical attention in a hospital in neighboring South Africa.

Ever since his death, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) has lost two cabinet ministers: Christina Ntshangase (public service) and Makhosi Vilakati (labor and social security).

Zimbabwe has lost four ministers to the virus: Sibusiso Moyo (foreign affairs), Joel Matiza (transport), Perrane Shiri (lands, agriculture and rural resettlement), and Ellen Gwaradzimba (former minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs).

SADC HQs in Gaborone - Photo Sunday Standard

SADC HQs in Gaborone, Botswana – Photo Sunday Standard

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera declared a state of disaster after two of his cabinet minsters – Sidik Mia (transport) and Lingson Berekanyama (local government) – died within hours of each other from complications from the virus.

Malawi’s former central bank governor, Francis Perekamoyo, and the principal secretary in the ministry of information, Ernest Kantchentche, had died after taking ill from the virus.

Last Thursday, South Africa’s minister in the presidency, Jackson Mthembu became the latest high-profile victim of the new coronavirus in South Africa.

Nkurunziza (Left) and Buyoya on a Facebook Montage

Nkurunziza (Left) and Buyoya on a Facebook Montage

Africa’s high-profile deaths include two ex-presidents of Burundi, which is not a SADC member state.

Former Burundian presidents Pierre Nkurunziza and Pierre Buyoya died last June 8 and last December 17 respectively, from complications after contracting the virus.

The 16-member SADC bloc brings together Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

SADC first came into existence in 1980 as a development coordinating conference (SADCC).

In 1992, the inter-governmental organization transformed into a development community whose goal is, according to its website “to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient productive systems, deeper co-operation and integration, good governance and durable peace and security among fifteen Southern African member countries”.

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