39th SADC Summit calls for deeper integration

SANF 19 no 39 – by Kizito Sikuka in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Southern Africa has put in place various measures aimed at advancing regional integration.

The measures are contained in a communique released soon after the 39th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit held in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania on 17-18 August.

On industrialization, the region approved the SADC Protocol on Industry, which aims to improve the policy environment for industrial development and support implementation.

Once operational, the protocol will become a stand-alone and binding legal instrument that will entrench and give legal effect to the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap and its related Cost-Action Plan and will thus ensure adequate coordination, monitoring and evaluation of implementation.

Adopted in April 2015, the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap seeks to achieve major economic and technological transformation at national and regional levels to accelerate economic growth through industrial development.

The development of an industrialization strategy and roadmap was in realization that most SADC Member States continue to be among the poorest in the world despite abundant natural resources as the majority of them export these in their raw or unprocessed form.

As such, the Summit urged member states to redouble their efforts in implementing the industrialization strategy to ensure sustainable development since no country or region in the world has ever developed without undergoing the process of industrialization.

“Summit noted with great concern the slow growth in the intra-SADC trade levels, and that the region continues to export unprocessed raw material to the rest of the world, thereby forfeiting the potential benefits of the resource endowments,” reads of the communique.

“To this effect, Summit agreed to accelerate the implementation of the industrialization strategy.”

Industrialization is a priority for SADC and since 2014, successive regional meetings have focused on how SADC could industrialize its economy.

With respect to the food security situation in the region, SADC agreed to work together in assisting affected populations with food supplies as well as providing emergency livestock supplementary feeding to save livestock, and importing grain to supplement reduced yields.

A recent Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa, estimates that the region has a cereal deficit of more than 5.4 million tonnes this year following subdued rainfall during the just-ended season.

The situation is further compounded by the effects of tropical cyclones that affected most parts of the Union of Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe between January and April.

In this regard the leaders “directed the SADC Secretariat to expedite the operationalization of the SADC Disaster Preparedness and Response Mechanism as part of the regional measures to respond to effects of climate change.”

Another landmark decision made by the summit was to honour Julius Nyerere through adopting Kiswahili “as the Fourth SADC Official Working Language.”

Nyerere had to bear the greatest burden of freeing Africa by accommodating liberation fighters in his country and providing them with logistical and military support.

As Founding President of Tanzania, Nyerere was instrumental in April 1980 in establishing SADC, formerly Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC).

The leaders said Kiswahili would be adopted at the level of Council and Summit, first as a language for oral communication, before eventually being adopted for written official communication within SADC.

KiSwahili is an official language of the African Union and the lingua franca in most of east Africa and parts of central and southern Africa.

The adoption of KiSwahili as an official SADC language is expected to deepen cultural relations among citizens in the region.

On the proposed transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a regional parliament, the summit “directed the SADC Secretariat in collaboration with the Parliamentary Forum Secretariat to develop the model that the proposed SADC Parliament would assume, in terms of mandate, powers and functions; and to develop a Roadmap towards the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament.”

The proposed establishment of the SADC Regional Parliament will provide a representative institution for the SADC citizenry, thereby serving as a valid interlocutor for the needs and desires of the general public.

The Executive is already the main driver of regional integration through intergovernmental institutions at senior officials, ministerial or heads of state and governmental levels.

The Judiciary was represented through the now suspended but soon to be reconstituted SADC Tribunal whose primary role is expected to be that of ensuring compliance and resolution of disputes related to the interpretation and application of the SADC Treaty and subsidiary legal instruments.

A missing link would, therefore, be that of the Legislature whose central role would be to spearhead the domestication of regional policy and legal obligations outlined in the SADC Treaty and various sectoral protocols.

On the political situation, welcomed the improving situation in the Kingdom of Lesotho and called upon all stakeholders “to remain committed to the reforms process.”

SADC said the recent peace and reconciliation agreement signed in Mozambique is a positive development towards consolidating peace in the region.

The 39th SADC Summit also noted the gravity of security challenges, especially on terrorism activities and transnational organized crime, and urged Member States to prioritize the implementation of the SADC Regional Counter Terrorism Strategy.

Complementary to this, the summit approved a legal document — Protocol on Inter-State Transfer of Sentenced Offenders — to promote and strengthen cooperation among member states in the areas of terrorism and policing.

The protocol aims among other issues to allow for the transfer of sentenced offenders to serve their sentences in their home countries.

On the socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe, SADC “noted the adverse impact on the economy of Zimbabwe and the region at large.”

The impact on the economy is due to illegal economic sanctions imposed on the country “by Europe and the USA.”

In this regard, the leaders express “expressed solidarity with Zimbabwe, and called for the immediate lifting of the sanctions to facilitate socio-economic recovery in the country.”

“Summit declared the 25th October as the date on which SADC Member States can collectively voice their disapproval of the sanctions through various activities and platforms until the sanctions are lifted.”

The 39th SADC Summit elected Tanzanian President, John Pombe Joseph Magufuli as Chairperson, and President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of Mozambique as deputy,

In this regard, the 40th SADC Summit will be held in Mozambique in August 2020.

The summit, which ran under the theme “A Conducive Environment of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, Increased Intra-Regional Trade and Job Creation”, appoint Zimbabwean President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa as Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

Zimbabwe will be deputized by Botswana represented by President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

The SADC Organ is responsible for promoting peace and security in the SADC region. It is mandated to steer and provide Member States with direction regarding matters that threaten peace, security and stability in the region. sardc.net

Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region. 

This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.

SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985.      Email sanf[at]sardc.net     

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