13 August 2010
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will celebrate its 30th anniversary when it meets in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, next week.
The SADC Heads of State Summit is scheduled to take place from 16 to 17 August.
The SADC has been in existence since 1980, when it was formed as a loose alliance of nine states in southern Africa known as the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC).
Coordinating development, improving lives
Its main aim was to coordinate 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.
The SADCC was formed in Lusaka, Zambia, on 1 April 1980, following the adoption of the Lusaka Declaration – Southern Africa: Towards Economic Liberation.
The transformation of the organisation from a coordinating conference into a development community (SADC) took place on 17 August 1992 in Windhoek, Namibia when the Declaration and Treaty was signed at the Summit of Heads of State and Government thereby giving the organisation a legal character.
Today, the SADC’s vision is one of economic well-being, improved standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice and peace and security for the people of southern Africa.
The SADC common agenda is based on various principles, such as development orientation, subsidisation, market integration and development, facilitation and promotion of trade and investment and variable geometry.
Addressing regional hotspots
Despite the positive developments since its inception, next week’s summit will have to address some of the sub-region’s “hotspots”.
Department of International Relations and Cooperation director-general Ayanda Ntsaluba said the Heads of State would try to find a way forward on Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe and his Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, have remained deadlocked on certain parts of the Global Political Agreement.
President Jacob Zuma, who is the bloc’s official mediator, is expected to brief the summit on the problems overshadowing the unity government. Ntsaluba, however, declined to divulge on the report that Zuma will table, saying only that there had been progress in this regard.
Last week, Zuma sent a special envoy on a mission to that country, lead by former Transport Minister Mac Maharaj.
Ntsaluba said SADC also remained concerned about the political situation in Madagascar and SADC leaders were expected to pronounce themselves on the matter; Lesotho was another area where the political situation warranted crucial intervention from SADC as well the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“The summit is also expected to propel the region closer to regional integration through the adoption of various recommendations expected from the regional body’s structures and task forces,” said Ntsaluba.
Infrastructure investment, development
Among others, a report on regional infrastructure projects will be tabled at the summit and an infrastructure development plan of action is expected to be approved.
At the end of the summit, Namibia will take over as the chairmanship of SADC, with Minister of Trade and Industry Hage Geingob as the chairperson of the SADC council of ministers, and President Hifikepunye Pohamba as the SADC chairperson.
DRC President Joseph Kabila is the current chairman, having taken over the position from Zuma at the 2009 summit in Kinshasa.
The Heads of State Summit will be followed by a SADC Infrastructure Investment Summit.