SADC strengthens formal engagement with Non-State Actors

SANF23 no 21

SADC has approved the development of a mechanism to formally engage with Non-State Actors, widening opportunities for collaboration with all stakeholders who are critical in the drive to integrate and develop the region.

Project Management Officer for the Integrated Institutional Capacity Building (IICB) Programme at the SADC Secretariat, Wazha Omphile said this on 14 September at the Third Regional Dialogue for Non-State Actors (NSAs) on the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 held in a hybrid format and coordinated from Johannesburg, South Africa. Same meetings were held concurrently in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The decision to strengthen formal engagement follows the realization that collaboration between SADC and NSAs had been on an ad hoc basis, with no formal platform to engage.

“There was no focal point at the Secretariat who coordinated NSAs engagement,” Omphile said.

As part of the process to deepen collaboration, the SADC Secretariat is mobilising resources to facilitate the establishment of an NSAs liaison office, undertake a comprehensive mapping of NSAs in the region and develop a database for the, Omphile said.

The Secretariat will also accredit the NSAs that it will work with as well as establish a platform for information sharing, while an NSAs forum will be regularly convened.

“The forum will be divided into thematic groups according to the prioritise of the RISDP. The forum will also allow NSAs to contribute to decision-making on matters of regional importance,” Omphile said.

Based in Gaborone, Botswana, the SADC Secretariat is the principal executive institution of SADC, responsible for strategic planning, facilitation, coordination and management of all SADC programmes, activities and projects.

The Secretariat has stressed that SADC was established to serve the interests of the region’s over 360 million citizens, and is open to collaboration with all stakeholders in pursuance of regional developments goals.

Before this, SADC had already moved to encourage robust engagement on its programmes within Member States through the creation of SADC National Committees (SNC). The SNCs, which comprise of key stakeholders from the government, private sector and civil society, were established to coordinate and oversee the implementation of programmes at the national level in pursuit of the targets under the RISDP 2020-30 and SADC Vision 2050.

The SADC RISDP (2020-2030) is a results-oriented plan to consolidate regional integration through infrastructure development, industrial development and market integration, social and human capital development and other cross-cutting issues including the environment, climate change, disaster risk management, gender and youth empowerment.

On the other hand, SADC Vision 2050 is a long-term plan in which the region aims to be an inclusive, competitive, middle to high-income industrialized region, where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic wellbeing, justice and freedom in a peaceful and secure environment.

Omphile said proposed guidelines for accreditation of NSAs had been finalised and taken for approval by the Council of Ministers at their meeting in August 2023.

“They did not pass as it was noted that only two Member States had provided input. The decision of the Council was to urge Member States who have not yet submitted comments for the guidelines for engagement of NSAs to do so by 31st October 2023,” he said.

The revised accreditation guidelines are now expected to be presented to Council in March 2024.

Organisations that participated in the dialogue welcomed the development of a formal mechanism to engage with the SADC Secretariat, saying it had been long overdue.

“We were previously working in isolation without knowing what was happening in the region and have been calling for establishment of such platforms,” said Justice Zvaita from the Southern Africa Climate Change Coalition.

David Chiwandamira, an expert on regional integration, said collaboration between the SADC Secretariat and non-state actors was necessary and complementary as they are all working towards the same goal to achieve the development aspirations of the region and improve the standards of living for the citizens.

The 3rd Regional Dialogue for NSAs on the SADC RISDP 2020-2030, held from 13-14 September ran under the theme, Accelerating SADC’s Development through the Socially Accountable Generation and Use of Public Resources.

Co-convened by 14 regional organizations, led by the Partnership for Social Accountability Alliance, the objective of the dialogue was to provide space for non-state actors to assess regional and national progress in the implementation of the SADC RISDP 2020-2030, noting achievements and challenges, with a focus on the social sectors of health, agriculture, and education; cross-cutting issues of gender, youth, climate change; and role of industrialisation and trade in resourcing development.

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