The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has adopted numerous programmes to advance regional integration and generate wealth and prosperity for the people of Southern Africa since its inception in 1992, the bloc’s Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax has said.
In the Preface to the publication 40 Years of SADC: Enhancing Regional Cooperation and Integration, Dr Tax said industrialisation, trade and market integration, infrastructure development, food security, social and human development, and peace and security had driven the SADC Programme of Action.
The publication spotlights SADC’s history and key achievements that the region has made since 1980. It was launched in Maputo, Mozambique, on June 23 at the Extraordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government.
The books was published by the SADC Secretariat in conjunction with the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC).
The bloc has grown and transformed over the past 40 years, moving from being a modest organisation known as the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference established in April 1980. It consisted of the nine independent founding member states of Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe; and transformed into the Southern African Development Community in 1992.
It has expanded to become one of the main building blocks of the proposed African Economic Community under the African Union. SADC now comprises 16 of the continent’s rapidly growing economies – Angola, Botswana, the Comoros, the DRC, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The main objectives of SADC are to achieve development, peace and security, and economic growth, to alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa, and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration, built on democratic principles and equitable and sustainable development.
Dr Tax said a total of 33 protocols covering various areas of co-operation had been signed since the transformation of SADC from a Co-ordination Conference in 1992.
Following the signing of the SADC Declaration and Treaty in 1992, the Region has shown commitment to deeper integration through strategic plans such as the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2010- 2020; Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation 2010-2020; SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063; SADC Regional Agricultural Policy 2015; and SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan 2012.
“The treaty establishing SADC, and these protocols, policies and strategies have laid a strong legal and institutional foundation for promoting regional co-operation. SADC’s Common Agenda is driven by well-established institutions that are provided for in the SADC Treaty, comprising of the Summit, the Organ on Politics Defence and Security Co-operation, Council of Ministers, sectoral and cluster ministerial committees, Standing Committee of Officials, and the SADC Secretariat,” said Dr Tax.
“Through these institutions, SADC member states have championed the SADC regional integration agenda for the common purpose and benefits of the people of the region.”
Dr Tax expressed hope that the publication would instil a greater zeal to carry forward the torch that was lit by SADC’s Founders: President Eduardo dos Santos (Angola); President Seretse Khama (Botswana); Prince Mabandla Dlamini (Prime Minister, Eswatini); Mooki Vitus Molapo (Trade and Tourism Minister, Lesotho); Dick Matenje (representing President Kamuzu Banda, Malawi); President Samora Machel (Mozambique); President Julius Nyerere (Tanzania), President Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia); and Prime Minister-designate Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe). This was at Mulungushi Conference Centre in Lusaka, Zambia on April 1, 1980. “It is our hope that this will encourage more action and collective conversations for effective implementation of the SADC regional integration agenda for the benefit of our citizens and prosperity of our individual economies, as well as the regional economy, as we move forward in the fast-changing and sometimes complex environment that we operate in. The lessons learnt and best practices gleaned should inspire us all towards meeting the dreams and ideals of SADC’s Founders and the expectations of the youth of today,” said Dr Tax. – SADC