Deepening regional integration in 2020 …as SADC celebrates 40 years

SANF 20 no 2 – by Kizito Sikuka 
Who said life begins at 40?

For southern Africa, the journey started in the late 1970s when representatives of the Frontline States sought to forge closer alliance, culminating into the formation of a vibrant regional organization, the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) in 1980.

SADCC was later transformed to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 1992.

In this regard, the year 2020 provides an opportunity for SADC to not only review its integration agenda but also chart the region’s development plan as it enters its 40 years of regional cooperation.

Towards Vision 2050
One of the priority focus areas for SADC in 2020 is the formulation of a new 30-year vision that will lay the foundation and set a strategic direction for the region to implement its programmes and activities until 2050.

The current regional blueprint, the Revised SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), which was approved in 2015 is coming to an end in December 2020.

The proposed SADC Vision 2050 is expected to be predicated upon the existing SADC vision, which is that “of a common future in a regional community that will ensure economic well-being, improvement of the standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice, and peace and security for the people of Southern Africa”.

The new vision will be aligned to the African Union Agenda 2063 and a resolution was also made by the region that the Strategic Plan 2020-2030 should be termed the RISDP 2020-2030.

The two strategic documents are expected to be presented for approval at the 40th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled for August in Maputo, Mozambique.

Strengthening implementation of regional initiatives
Closely linked to the development of a new vision, the year 2020 is historic as it marks the last year of implementation of the Revised RISDP 2015-2020.

SADC Member States are this year expected to intensify their efforts to implement activities set out in the plan as well as the industrial development strategy.

The SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063 provides a framework for major economic and technological transformations in southern Africa.

To support its implementation, a SADC Protocol on Industry, which aims to improve the policy environment for industrial development was approved in August 2019.

The protocol is 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 ensure adequate coordination, monitoring and evaluation of implementation both at the regional and national level.

Advancing gender development
On gender development, SADC will this year join the global community to mark the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPfA).

The BDPfA is an agenda for empowerment of women that aims to accelerate the implementation of gender progressive initiatives as well as removing all the obstacles to women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making.

While SADC has made significant progress to promote gender equality and equity, the year 2020 provides an opportunity for the region to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while taking note of the barriers that hinder the acceleration of gender equality.

Addressing the regional energy situation
During the year, SADC will continue to strengthen energy development at regional level to address power shortages that have hindered economic growth and development since 2007, due to diminishing generation capacity and growth in demand.

SADC through the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), which coordinates the planning, generation, transmission and marketing of electricity in southern Africa on behalf of member state utilities plans to commission a total of 8,781 megawatts of new electricity to the regional power grid in 2020.

Another priority in the energy sector is the finalization of the review of the SADC Protocol on Energy, which is now outdated and does not capture some of the changing dynamics in the energy sector such as the push towards greater uptake of renewable energy sources and technologies as well as the impact of climate change.

Furthermore, SADC is expected to conclude a study on the modalities and operations of a regional policy framework to guide the exploration of gas and oil by April.

The SADC region has some of the largest deposits of natural gas in the world, hence the development of a regional gas mater plan will go a long way in enabling the region tap its potential and address its energy challenges.

Establishment of a regional parliament
SADC will remain seized with the proposed transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum (PF) into a regional parliament.

The 39th SADC Summit held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in August 2019 “directed the SADC Secretariat in collaboration with the SADC PF 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 PF into a SADC Parliament.”

The model is expected to be finalized this year and presented for approval at the 40th SADC Summit scheduled for August in Mozambique.

Newly appointed Foreign Affairs Minister of Mozambique, Veronica Macamo, who will chair the SADC Council of Ministers for the year starting in August, was instrumental in lobbying for the transformation when she was the chairperson of the SADC PF before her appointment to her new post in January.

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.

Silencing the Guns

Peace and stability are key ingredients for the success of regional integration and sustainable development. As such, mechanisms for peace-building and peace-keeping will be another focal area of attention for SADC in 2020.

In line with the African Union aspiration of “Silencing the Guns by 2020”, SADC will strive to end wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, and violent conflicts in the region.

The SADC region has generally enjoyed stability despite some pockets of volatility in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Kingdom of Lesotho and Madagascar.

SADC will thus continue to take stock of interventions undertaken by the region to promote peace and stability in these and other Member States.

Buoyed by successful elections held in 2019, at least two countries in the region – Seychelles and United Republic of Tanzania – will go to the polls this year.

Tanzanians will vote in October to elect their President, parliamentarians and councillors, while Seychelles has its presidential election between September and November.

Solidarity with Zimbabwe
On 25 October, SADC Member States will once again stand with Zimbabwe in challenging the imposition of economic sanctions on the country.

The region declared the 25 October of each year 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.

SADC Chairperson, President John Magufuli of Tanzania said the illegal sanctions “have not only affected the people of Zimbabwe and their government but our entire region.”

Zimbabwe has grappled with economic and banking sanctions since 2002 when the United States and its western allies imposed an embargo on the country in response to the land reform programme and the leading role played by Zimbabwe in the SADC intervention in Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998 in support of the government there.

Benefiting from an enlarged market
Another important issue for SADC in 2020 is making sure that the region fully benefits from the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that became a reality in May 2019.

The AfCFTA is an enlarged market that brings together all the 55 AU member states, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion.

The operationalization of the AfCFTA has the capacity to change the global economic landscape and boost intra-regional trade across the continent.

 Striving for food security
Agriculture will once again come under the spotlight this year following subdued and low rainfall in previous farming seasons including averse weather and climatic conditions such as floods, drought and cyclones.

In this regard, SADC Member States are expected to approve as well as implement measures aimed at improving the food security situation in the region.

These measures include assisting affected populations with food supplies as well as providing emergency livestock supplementary feeding to save livestock, and importing grain to supplement their reduced yields.

Other initiatives are the establishment of vibrant disaster risk strategies as well as the mainstream of Disaster Risk Reduction strategies in all national and regional programmes to ensure better and coordinated response to address the effects of climate change.

40th SADC Summit
The region will convene its annual 40th SADC Summit in Mozambique in August to track and advance the implementation of its integration agenda.

At the summit, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique will assume the rotating SADC chair from his Tanzanian counterpart, John Pombe Joseph Magufuli.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana will become the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation from President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.

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.

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]     

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