Windhoek - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has gained technical and material support from its cooperation with the European Union (EU) through the Regional Political Cooperation (RPC) programme says SADC Secretariat Director of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs, Jorge Cardoso.
The RPC programme, which is one of the several initiatives between the two blocs, was nested in the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), which ended in September 2018.
It was launched with the aim to strengthen SADC’s capacity to meet the benchmarks in the regional bloc’s Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ.
Information from the launch of the 11th EDF to support the successor of RPC programme, shows that the RPC programme has enabled SADC to develop a specialised pool of mediators across the region.
The programme saw the establishment of at least 395 specialised mediators across the region with the majority of them being women and more than 1,000 election observers. Of the total number of election observers, more than 120 have been equipped with modern information technologies of assessing the electoral cycle.
“The support from the EU has assisted us to bolster our capacities as a Secretariat – enabling us to systematically build the requisite skills, tools, systems and knowledge bases that will no doubt strengthen our regional integration agenda as it relates to peace and security,” said Cardoso.
He said the RPC programme, through various partnerships, has made a positive impact on the thematic area of disaster risk reduction and management as well as humanitarian affairs.
It is through the same programme that the SADC Secretariat was able to produce and institutionalise strategic policies such as the Disaster Preparedness and Response Strategy and Fund. The latter is guiding the region in addressing the impact of the Cyclone Idai.
The establishment of the Disaster Preparedness and Response Strategy and Fund will position the region to tap into its own resources with stronger coordinated approaches to calamities in the future. However, the fund is yet to be operationalised through the Regional Development Fund.
As a way of mitigating problems associated with human trafficking, which has become one of the major global challenges, the RPC programme has contributed to the establishment of national action plans, databases, policies and legislation.
These have made it easier for the SADC Secretariat to identify, record and prosecute cases of trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
“The revision of the Strategic Plan of Action with contributions of the RPC, enjoins us to strengthen our means of prosecuting such crimes within our member states,” said Cardoso.
“With the support of the EU, for which we are most grateful, SADC has been able to build these strategic policy instruments, training tools, and information management systems.”
He said the successor of RPC programme is ‘Support to Peace and Security in the SADC region (SPSS).
The SPSS,which was launched in Gaborone, Botswana, on 5 April 2019 seeks to strengthen national and regional infrastructure for peace.
According to the SADC Organ on Politics Defence and Security Affairs, the calls for the deepening and institutionalising of internal capacities to respond to crisis within the member states, while consolidating regional mechanisms.
“The programme will leverage the skills, tools and strategic policy documents developed under RPC to ensure their practical application in the field. Thereby assuring the region of continuity beyond the expiry of the programme in 2022,” said Cardoso.
The SPSS programme is funded under the 11th European Development Fund for three-and-a-half years to the tune of €15 million and it is designed to strengthen the capacity of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation’s to promote peace, security and democracy across the SADC region.
EU and SADC have a long-standing cooperation.
According to Head of Delegation of EU to Botswana and SADC, Ambassador Jan Sadek, EU has allocated €300 million to SADC during the last decade.