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Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Southern Africa is a region richly endowed with human, natural, agricultural and mineral resources but the majority of people live in extreme poverty, and declining life expectancy and limited access to basic services and infrastructure. The problem is compounded by civil strife and wars, high crime rate, corruption, trade in illicit drugs and the spread of HIV/AlDS. The challenge is to accelerate economic growth in order to improve the living conditions of the peoples of Southern Africa and reduce dependence on South Africa.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been in existence since 1980, when it was formed as a loose alliance of nine majority-ruled States in Southern Africa known as the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), with the main aim of coordinating development projects in order to lessen economic dependence on the then apartheid South Africa. The founding Member States are: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. SADCC was formed in Lusaka, Zambia on April 1, 1980, following the adoption of the Lusaka Declaration - Southern Africa: Towards Economic Liberation.

The Declaration and Treaty establishing the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which replaced the Coordination Conference, was signed at the Summit of Heads of State or Government on 17 August 1992, in Windhoek, Namibia. The central objective was to intensify cooperation among the countries and economic integration. SADC identified the development of transport and communication as the key strategy towards economic integration. The transformation of the organization from a Coordinating Conference into a Development Community (SADC) took place when the Declaration and Treaty was signed at the Summit of Heads of State and Government thereby giving the organization a legal character. SADC was established under Article 2 of the SADC treaty by SADC Member States represented by their respective Heads of State and Government or duly authorised representatives to spearhead economic integration of Southern Africa.

Current Member States are: Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. SADC headquarters are located in Gaborone, Botswana.

The SADC vision is one of a common future, within a regional community that will ensure economic well-being, improvement of the standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice; peace and security for the peoples of Southern Africa. This shared vision is anchored on the common values and principles and the historical and cultural affinities that exist amongst the peoples of Southern Africa. Provided for in Article 5 of the SADC Treaty, the SADC Objectives are to:

  • achieve development and economic growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration;
  • evolve common political values, systems and institutions;
  • promote and defend peace and security;
  • promote self-sustaining development on the basis of collective self-reliance, and the inter-dependence of Member States;
  • achieve complementarity between national and regional strategies and programmes;
  • promote and maximise productive employment and utilisation of resources of the region;
  • achieve sustainable utilisation of natural resources and effective protection of the environment;
  • strengthen and consolidate the long-standing historical, social and cultural affinities and links among the peoples of the region;

To achieve these aims, SADC will

  • harmonise political and socio-economic policies and plans of Member States;
  • mobilise the peoples of the region and their institutions to take initiatives to develop economic, social and cultural ties across the region, and to participate fully in the implementation of the programmes and projects of SADC;
  • create appropriate institutions and mechanisms for the mobilisation of requisite resources for the implementation of the programmes and operations of SADC and its institutions;
  • develop policies aimed at the progressive elimination of obstacles to free movement of capital and labour, goods and services, and of the peoples of the region generally within Member States;
  • promote the development of human resources;
  • promote the development, transfer and mastery of technology;
  • improve economic management and performance through regional cooperation;
  • promote the coordination and harmonisation of the international relations of Member States;
  • secure international understanding, cooperation and support, mobilise the inflow of public and private resources into the region; and
  • develop such other activities as Member States may decide in furtherance of the objectives of SADC.

The signatories of the SADC Treaty agree that underdevelopment, exploitation, deprivation and backwardness in Southern Africa will only be overcome through economic cooperation and integration. The Member States recognise that achieving regional economic integration in Southern Africa requires them to put their full support behind SADC to act on behalf of all Southern Africans for their common prosperity, peace and unity. In pursuit of this agenda, SADC has adopted milestones to facilitate the attainment of the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) by 2008, the Customs Union (CU) by 2010, the Common Market (CM) by 2015, Monetary Union (MU) by 2016 and the Single Currency by 2018. The SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) was launched on August 17, 2008 at Sandton, South Africa during the 28th Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government.

The SADC Common Agenda is based on various principles, such as development orientation; subsidiarity; market integration and development; facilitation and promotion of trade and investment and variable geometry. The SADC Common Agenda includes:

  • the promotion of sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development that will ensure poverty alleviation with the ultimate objective of its eradication;
  • promotion of common political values, systems and other shared values which are transmitted through institutions which are democratic, legitimate and effective; and
  • the consolidation and maintenance of democracy, peace and security.

South Africa is the regional if not the continental power in terms of its political stature, economic power, and military capability. South Africa, however, follows a cautious approach in dealing with Africa in general and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in particular. By 2001 South Africa had decided to push the proposed African Union to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and overhaul the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in an attempt to fast-track the economic and political integration of the continent. In January 2002 the Southern African Development Community met but failed to take action against Zimbabwe.

In 2008 US Officials visited institutions such as the Economic Community of Central African States, the Southern African Development Community, the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union. It set the stage for the new US Africa Command lending assistance to regional organizations identified as important by Africans.

On 16 January 2009, the President of the United States determined that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was eligible to receive defense articles and servicesunder the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and the Arms Export Control Act,as amended, in Presidential Determination No. 2009-13.

The SADC Brigade supports regional peace operations under the African Standby Force Policy Framework. The Brigade, launched in August 2008, is made up of military, police and civilian members from SADC Member States. The Function of the Brigade is to participate in missions as envisaged in Article 13 of the “mandate” of the Peace and Security Protocol relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, which includes:

  • Observation and monitoring missions;
  • Peace support missions;
  • Interventions for peace and security restoration at the request of a Member State; and
  • Actions to prevent the spread of conflict to neighboring states, or the resurgence of violence after agreements have been reached.

The SADC Brigade serves in peace-building efforts including postconflict disarmament and demobilisation and humanitarian assistance in conflict areas and areas impacted by major natural disasters. The SADC Brigade operates as a tool of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and receives its guidance from the SADC Committee of Chiefs of Defence staff and the Committee of SADC Police Chiefs.

Training of the Brigade at all levels is a key priority for SADC. The Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre located in Zimbabwe and other national peace support training institutions play a pivotal role in training military commanders, police officers and civilian officials at various levels.

The African Standby Force consists of civilian and military components in each African region ready for rapid deployment anywhere in Africa at appropriate notice. Who has authority to deploy the Force and who will fund the Force are two major questions that need answers before the Force can be mobilised. Until these paramount questions can be answered the African Standby Force remains regional and continental goal.




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Page last modified: 06-08-2017 15:24:17 ZULU