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Southern Africa, one of the continent’s most stable regions

20.08.2019
Article from AFRIC editorial
When we talk about Africa, we talk diversity. Africa is one blessed continent with so many unique things. There is the rebirth of a new Africa, with new mindsets. No matter the challenges faced by Africa, many strides are being made at regional levels to see the total transformation of the continent. Like ECOWAS, that has been widely appraised for ensuring that member nations are made politically and economically viable, the Southern African Development Community, SADC is another regional bloc that has made enormous efforts to promote integration and economic growth in the sub region.

What is the SADC?

The Southern African Development Community widely known as SADC is a regional bloc that came into existence in 1992. Its main objective is to ensure integration at regional level, tackle and wipe out poverty within Southern Africa, all these to be achieved through economic development and ensuring peace and security in member states. The regional bloc is made up of sixteen countries including Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, DR Congo, Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius, Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Eswatini (then Swaziland) and  Madagascar.  Its headquarters is in Gaborone, Botswana.

Hearing the name Southern African Development Community for the first time, one could think that it is a bloc opened to countries situated in the southern part of the continent. But that is not the case as the SADC bloc is also open to countries beyond its geographical boundary.  Though not directly answerable to Africa’s number one institutional bloc the African Union, SADC works in collaboration with the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD and other regional blocs to promote continental and regional integration.

Recent successes record by SADC under President Hage Geingob

Over the years, the SADC has been working towards attaining its objectives, pressing hard on peace and stability in member nations.  Though not sometimes easy to achieve all of these due to personal differences and ideologies, SADC members remain in the move and have made commendable progress. As clearly defined by previous SADC Chairperson Hage Geingob (current Namibian President), the peaceful and democratic transfer of power by the Kabila Regime to the present Tshisekedi regime in the Democratic Republic of  Congo , the peaceful hand over of power in Madagascar (The first peaceful transfer of power from one elected president to another since independence in 1960), the remarkable and historic peace deal inked by the government of Mozambique under President Filipe Nyusi and the rebel turned main opposition group RENAMO are some of the laudable successes recorded by some member states of the Southern African Development Community in recent times. 

President Hage Geingob while handing over the chairmanship of SADC to President John Magufuli of Tanzania, applauded the efforts of member states in consolidating democracy. ‘’Leaders are working towards the wellbeing of their citizens’’, he said.

After noticing that almost all member states of SADC can speak Swahili, the leaders have unanimously agreed to use Kiswahili as the bloc’s official language.  Tanzanian president, now current chairperson of SADC has always and remains a strong advocate of the use of Swahili in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa. Preserving Africa’s identity is his plight.

In spite of the visible successes recorded, the regional bloc is still facing challenges, which stand as impediments to integration and economic transformation of its member states.  However, the most pronounced is the economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.

ZIMBABWE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS

The economic sanctions placed on Zimbabwe by the United States and the European Union some decades ago has fiercely damaged the economy of the southern African nation. These sanctions in place since 2002, under then president Robert Mugabe has stifled direct foreign investment in Zimbabwe as EU member states or  business moguls cannot engage in economic pacts with the government of Zimbabwe. Though the sanctions are on Zimbabwe, they have an indirect negative effect on the regional bloc SADC.  Serving Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa has decried the sanctions, blaming them for the country’s slow development.

This is the more reason the new leadership of the regional bloc President John Magufuli has made a clarion call to the United states of America and the European Union, to reconsider their ties with Zimbabwe and  ‘’immediately lift’’ the economic embargo. President Magufuli made the call at the just concluded 39th ordinary summit of head of states and government of SADC in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.   Reiterating that the sanctions be removed, President Magufuli said “These sanction have not only affected the people of Zimbabwe and their government but the entire region. It is like a human body, when you chop one of its parts it affects the whole body.” However, SADC has made its call, but the final decision can only come from the US and EU.

Another challenge faced by the bloc is the Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is a health risk due to its contagious nature. Movement beyond borders especially for commercial purposes has been restricted in recent times due to the Ebola outbreak in the east African nation. Notwithstanding, efforts are being made to contain the epidemic. We can’t talk about SADC challenges without mentioning the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa. Many foreigners in SA have been victims of xenophobic attacks from frustrated and jobless South African youths who feel that foreigners are taking jobs meant for them. This is really an impediment to regional integration preached by SADC.

Terrorists attacks in the region are very minimal as compared to other regions on the continent. The DR Congo government is leaving no stone unturned as far as wiping out rebel groups from its territory.

Aware that these challenges are not favourable factors to drive real industrialization, economic transformation and integration, leaders of the SADC bloc have been urged to ensure peace and stability in their respective nations, especially at the time the historic African Free trade area is entering into force.

Article from AFRIC editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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