What you need to know about SADC

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will celebrate its 25th anniversary when it meets in South Africa’s capital Tshwane, next week.

Tshwane is to host the 37th Ordinary Summit of the SADC from 09 to 20 August. SAnews.gov.za has  compiled some information you need to know about SADC and the summit.

SADC was formed on 17 August 1992 in Windhoek, Namibia, with its precursor known as the Southern African Development Coordinating Conference (SADCC), which was established in 1980 in Lusaka, Zambia. 

Founding member states are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. When SADC was founded, the main aim was to coordinate development projects in order to lessen economic dependence on the then apartheid South Africa.

Today, 25 years later, the regional bloc has 15-member states with diverse groups of nations, ranging from least developed countries, small islands and land-locked states to countries with vast land masses and resources and with considerable potential.

Today SADC has the following member states: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Their vision is one of common sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development, the pooling of resources to achieve collective self-reliance in order to improve the living standards of the estimated 300 million people of the region.

The SADC common agenda is based on various principles, such as freedom and social justice and peace and security, development orientation, subsidiarity, market integration and development, facilitation and promotion of trade and investment and variable geometry.

It calls for regional integration were all countries and people of Southern Africa develop a vision of a shared future, a future within a regional community.

With regards to the structure and functions, SADC has a number of institutions.  Among those is the summit which is the supreme policy-making institution of SADC and consists of Heads of State and/or Government of all Member States.

The summit usually meets once a year around August and is responsible for the overall policy direction and control of functions of SADC as its decisions are binding. The summit elects a chairperson and vice-chairperson for a one-year-term that rotates among the bloc’s member states.

From this month, President Jacob Zuma will take over from Swaziland’s King Mswati III as the chairperson of SADC, for a term that will run until August 2018.

SADC also has the Troika which enables the bloc to execute tasks and implement decisions expeditiously and provide policy direction to SADC institutions in the period between regular SADC meetings.

The Troika system operates at the level of the summit, the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security and is made up of ministers responsible for foreign affairs, defence, public security and state security who look at the peace and security issues in the region.

The Council of Ministers consists of Ministers from each Member State, usually from the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economic Development, Planning or Finance is responsible for overseeing the functioning and development of SADC and ensuring that policies are properly implemented.

Then there is the principal executive institution of SADC, which is responsible for strategic planning, coordination and management of SADC programmes. It is headed by an Executive Secretary and it is based at the headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana.

With member states representing a growing family with dynamic complementarities and the potential to become a united trading block- it is without doubt that SADC has come a long way.

It has inculcated a sense of regional belonging as well as a tradition of consultation among the peoples and governments of Southern Africa.

Its regional cooperation and integration success are also notable, in the areas of governance, democracy, peace and security which has ensured that the region enjoys unparalleled peace, political stability and security for the past few years.

Similar progress could be noted in infrastructure across different sectors such as energy, transport, telecommunications, tourism, meteorology and water, trade, industry, finance and investment; food, agriculture and natural resources; and social and human development.

For example ongoing infrastructure projects in the region include among others the ZiZaBoNa Interconnector Project which will link Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, the establishment of the Namibia-Angola Interconnector that will connect the latter to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) as well as the grand Inga III Hyropower project which will seek to harness the power potential of the Congo River, sub-Saharan Africa’s greatest waterway. Once all seven of its planned phases are complete, the Inga project is expected to generate a massive 40 000 megawatts (MW) of renewable power.

These milestones were achieved though the formulation of the SADC Programme of Action, which covers cooperation in several economic and social sectors, and implemented several infrastructure and other projects.

This can also be attributed to the region’s abundant natural resources ranging from its people with a rich historical and mineral resources that provide considerable potential for industrial development including precious and base metals, industrial minerals and precious stones.

Looking into the future, the regional bloc has developed several strategic plans which are set to take the region even further.

These include the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan of SADC, a comprehensive 15–year strategic roadmap, which provides the strategic direction for achieving SADC’s long term social and economic goals.

The Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Defence, Politics and Security, or SIPO's, core objective is to create a peaceful and stable political and security environment through which the region will realise its objectives of socio-economic development, poverty eradication and regional integration.

Most recently, SADC adopted the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap, 2015-2063, which is aligned to national, regional, continental and international dimensions.

At the centre of SADC’s industrialisation efforts, the regional strategy and roadmap sets out three potential growth paths, namely agro-processing; mineral beneficiation and downstream processing value chains.

The paths are mutually supporting and inclusive, encompassing the combination of downstream value addition and backward integration of the upstream provision of inputs, intermediate items and capital goods.

South Africa, which is the incoming chair of the SADC, has chosen “partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value-chains” as the theme.

This theme seeks to address two key issues that can help move industrialization programme in the region.

According to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation: “South Africa’s strategic direction as chair of the summit will be aimed at institutionalization of the relationship between the governments and the regional private sector as well as the operationalization of the SADC adopted Industrialization Policy and its costed action plan.” - SAnews.gov.za

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