SADC National Committees are key to regional integration

SANF 24 no 7 – By Clarkson Mambo

“One man cannot surround an anthill” says a Zimbabwean proverb illustrating the importance of teamwork to accomplish a huge or demanding task.

In this spirit of working together, the government of Zimbabwe has initiated steps to establish SADC National Committees, with the support of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat.

The initiative is aimed at strengthening the involvement of stakeholders at national level, towards active involvement in the regional integration agenda.

National Committees are one of the key institutions of SADC introduced in 2001 as part of wider reforms to strengthen the regional organization through facilitating public participation in the formation and implementation of policies, programmes and strategies.

The involvement of stakeholders at national level also addresses misconceptions that SADC is a political entity whose work is solely intergovernmental.

Article 16a of the SADC Treaty enables Member States to establish SADC National Committees (SNCs) which comprise stakeholders from government, private sector and civil society.

Key functions of the committees include providing input at national level in the formulation of SADC policies, strategies, and programmes of action, coordinating and overseeing the implementation of SADC programmes and initiating projects.

The committees are expected to issue white papers as part of their input into the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, which sets out the region’s growth and development agenda.

On 24 April 2024, Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade met with stakeholders and a SADC appointed consultant, Dr Sloan Chimatiro to begin consultations towards the setting up of SADC SNCs.

The Chief Director of Multilateral Affairs in the ministry, Petronella Nyagura called upon stakeholders in business and civil society to join hands with the government to ensure that the committees are established and become fully functional.

“Currently, our committee is made up of government departments only, but the SADC Treaty requires that other stakeholders be part of the SADC National Committees,” she said.

Studies in other countries have shown limited participation especially by civil society, although the business sector has been more active in regional affairs through the SADC Business Council.

Dr Chimatiro said the SADC Secretariat is providing support to Member States to set up the committees under a programme called Strengthening National-Regional Linkages in SADC.

“The programme is part of support to SADC Member States to implement their commitment in terms of the SADC Treaty,” he said, noting that some Member States are having challenges in terms of the domestication of protocols and establishing institutions as required.

The Programme to strengthen national-regional linkages seeks to address challenges hindering the success of regional integration in SADC by improving the linkages between the SADC Secretariat and member states at various levels through capacity-building programmes for national structures responsible for the coordination of regional integration.

The programme also enhances coordination, planning implementation, monitoring and evaluation of SADC policies, protocols, and legal instruments.

The government of Germany is funding the current national-regional programme which is running until 2025.

With Zimbabwe taking over as chair of SADC in August 2024, Dr Chimatiro said the SADC National Committees will have greater importance and participation.

He said it will be the role of the national committee to communicate with various sectors and communities, to raise awareness on the benefits and activities of regional integration, including the role of SADC.

In line with the SADC Treaty, each national steering committee consists of the chairperson and the chairpersons of sub-committees. The sub-committees and technical committees operate at ministerial and officials levels.

The chairperson of the national committee provides a link with the SADC Secretariat.

The SADC National Committees are established in some Member States, but most have not yet been created. Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia have established their national committees, but report that the committees are facing challenges and still require capacitation.

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:     

Website and Virtual Library for Southern Africa  Knowledge for Development