Southern African Development Community (SADC)


Originally known as the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC), the organisation was formed in Lusaka, Zambia on 1 April 1980, following the adoption of the Lusaka Declaration. The Declaration and Treaty establishing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which has replaced the Co-ordination Conference was signed at the Summit of Heads of State or Government on 17 August 1992, in Windhoek, Namibia.

Member states of SADC are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In order to address national priorities through regional action most member states had been allocated the responsibility of coordinating one or more sectors. This involved proposing sector policies, strategies and priorities, and processing projects for inclusion in the sectoral programme, monitoring progress and reporting to the Council of Ministers.

Until 2001 the sector responsibilities within SADC have been as follows:


Energy Commission


Agricultural Research, Livestock Production and Animal Disease Control


Environment, Land Management and Water


Inland Fisheries, Forestry and Wildlife




Culture, Information, Sport, and the Transport and Communications Commission (SATTCC)


Marine Fisheries and Resources Legal Affairs

South Africa

Finance, Investment and Health


Human Resources Development


Industry and Trade


Employment, Labour and Mining


Crop Production, Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources

The DRC and Seychelles had no sector responsibility.

A decision of the SADC Summit held in Maputo, Mozambique, in August 1999 instructed that a review be conducted of the Institutions of SADC as well as its Operations. This directive was based on the fact that under the sectoral based approach which was inherited from the SADCC, the organisation was being hamstrung in its endeavours to achieve regional integration by devising and implementing regional policies and strategies in a co-ordinated and harmonised manner.

The review exercise was duly completed in December 2000 and having been approved and recommended by the Council, was presented to the Extra-ordinary Summit of SADC in March 2001 in Windhoek, Namibia. Summit endorsed the recommendations contained in the Review Report and called for the restructuring to be implemented with immediate effect and to be completed within a two-year transitional period.

The Sector-based decentralised approach is to be discontinued in favour of a centralised one at the SADC Secretariat Headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana. An Integrated Ministerial Committee has been constituted to devise a five-year Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan for the region together with the newly created Department of Strategic Planning, Gender and Development and Policy Harmonisation. All SADC member states will be participating in this process through their national committees. The Integrated Ministerial Committee will oversee the implementation of the Strategic Plan and report to Council on progress.

Under the Department of Strategic Planning, Gender and Development and Policy Harmonisation will be four Directorates which cluster those activities and programmes of SADC which are cross-cutting and inter-related. The four Directorates are: Trade and Industry and Finance and Investment; Infrastructure and Services; Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources; and, Human and Social Development.

Implementation of the restructuring exercise is currently underway and is expected to be completed by December 2002.

SADC has a formalised structure, which includes the Summit of Heads of State; the Council of Ministers; the Standing Committee of Senior Officials.

The SADC Secretariat which will continue to operate from its Headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana is headed by an Executive-Secretary. The Secretariat has a small component and is tasked with administrative issues relating to the organisation as well as implementing decisions made by the Council and Summit.

The aim of SADC is to create a Community providing for regional peace and security, and an integrated regional economy. As a regional institution it has laid the basis on which regional planning and development in southern Africa could be pursued. It also provides the desired instrument by means of which member states should move along the path towards eventual economic integration. Furthermore, SADC forms one of the building blocks of the African Economic Community (AEC).

South Africa acceded to the SADC Treaty on 29 August 1994 at the Heads of State Summit in Gaborone, Botswana. This accession was approved by the Senate and National Assembly on 13 and 14 September 1994 respectively.

As a member of SADC, South Africa's focus is on regional co-operation for the socioeconomic development of the Southern African region. South Africa's membership of SADC provides an opportunity to tackle, in a coordinated fashion together with other member states issues such as sustainable regional economic growth, HIV/AIDS, the problem of illegal immigration and refugees as well as narcotics and arms smuggling into the region.


The responsibility of monitoring and managing South Africa's role in the process of regional integration lies with the Directorate: SADC National Contact Point in the Department of Foreign Affairs. Regarding the programmes and activities of SADC, these are pursued by the relevant line function Departments.

These Departments are :

Each Department is responsible for interacting with the relevant South African stakeholders in their respective areas of responsibility.



  • Protocol on Immunities and Privileges
  • Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems in the Southern African Region
  • Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses
  • Protocol on Combating Illicit Drug Trafficking in the Southern African region
  • Protocol on Energy
  • Protocol on Mining
  • Protocol on Trade
  • Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology
  • Protocol on Education and Training
  • Protocol on Tourism
  • Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement
  • Protocol on Health
  • Protocol on Legal Affairs
  • Protocol on the Tribunal and the Rules of Procedure Thereof
  • Amendment Protocol on Trade
  • Protocol on Fisheries
  • Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and other Related Materials
  • Protocol Against Corruption
  • Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation
  • Protocol on Culture, Information and Sport
  • Agreement Amending the Treaty of SADC

South Africa has signed 21 of the Protocols and is in the process of acceding to the Protocol on Immunities and Privileges. South Africa has also ratified the Protocols on Shared Watercourse Systems, Combating Illicit Drug Trafficking, Energy, Mining, Transport, Communications and Meteorology, Health and Education and Training. The Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems has also been ratified.

Of the 22 Protocols signed, the Protocols on Immunities and Privileges, Shared Watercourse Systems, Combating Illicit Drug Trafficking, Energy, Mining, Trade, Education and Training, Transport, Communications and Meteorology have received the required number of ratifications and have entered into force.


  • Declaration Towards a Southern Africa free of Anti- personnel landmines
  • Declaration on Gender and Development
  • Declaration on Productivity
  • Declaration Concerning Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials

South Africa is a signatory to these Declarations.

Other instruments include the MOU on the Southern African Power Pool and the Charter of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) to which South Africa is a party (the Charter has also entered into force), as well as the MOU with the Southern African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).


Since 1994 the South African government has regarded the Southern African region as the most important priority of its foreign relations. To illustrate the importance attached to this region, the first foreign policy document adopted by this government was in fact a "Framework for Co-operation in Southern Africa" approved by Cabinet in August 1996.

In terms of this "Framework", our vision for the Southern African region is one of the highest possible degree of economic cooperation, mutual assistance where necessary and joint planning of regional development initiatives, leading to integration consistent with socio-economic, environmental and political realities.

In order to carry out South Africa's foreign policy objectives in Southern Africa, South Africa joined the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in August 1994.

South Africa has taken a leading role in the region to address such issues as closer collaboration and economic integration. These include the establishment of a free trade area in the region, the development of basic infrastructure, the development of human resources and the creation of the necessary capacity to drive this complicated process forward, as well as the urgent need for peace, democracy and good governance to be established throughout the region.

Since joining SADC, South Africa has become very involved in the activities of the community. Until the present South Africa has been co-ordinating the Finance and Investment and Health sectors.

Regarding the many activities of SADC, such as Transportation and Communications, Agriculture, Trade, Energy and Mining, etc., these are actively pursued by the relevant South African line function departments.

The signature of the SADC Protocol on Trade in August 1996 confirmed the commitment of Southern Africa to establish a Free Trade Area in the region. Negotiations to determine Member States tariff structure are at an advanced stage. The Trade Protocol was ratified by more than two thirds SADC Member States and it was implemented on the 1st of September 2000. Presently, more than half of the SADC Member States has already deposited their Instruments of Implementation of the SADC Protocol on Trade.

South Africa has also played a leading role in the development of the Berlin Initiative, which strives to foster closer co-operation between the European Union and SADC. Priority issues that are included under this Initiative are the consolidation of democracy in the Southern African region, combatting illicit drug trafficking, clearance of landmines, regional integration, promotion of Trade and Investment and combatting HIV/AIDS. South Africa together with the other member states of SADC is also co-operating with the USA under SADC/US Forum Initiative.

South Africa played an important role in having Gender issues placed on the SADC Agenda and is a signatory to the Declaration on Gender and Development and the Addendum on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children. As a follow-up to the Declaration on Gender and Development South Africa hosted a SADC Conference on Violence Against Women and Children in March 1998 in Durban.

In 1999 the SADC Council focused on Special Programmes. This entailed setting up working groups to deal with the issues of Mine Action, Combating the Proliferation of Small Arms and Disaster management in the region. At the SADC Council Meeting in Windhoek during August 2000 a Secretariat Officer was appointed to monitor progress with the Working Groups dealing with these issues. Both the small arms and landmine issues are also discussed with the European Union under the Berlin Initiative. South Africa continues to play a significant part in these deliberations and together with the other member states ensures that the interests of the region are communicated to the wider international arena.

South Africa, together with the other member states of SADC established the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security in June 1996 as a forum in which political issues in the region could be discussed and resolved. Due to differences in interpretation of the functions and structures of the Organ it did not become an operational and functional instrument of SADC. At the extraordinary SADC Summit held in Windhoek, Namibia on 9-10 March 2001, Heads of State and Government finally reached agreement on the role, functions and structure of the Organ. A Draft Protocol was drawn up and adopted at the SADC Summit in Blantyre, Malawi on 14 August 2002. 

The broad intent of the Organ Protocol is to achieve solidarity, peace and security within the SADC region through close co-operation on matters of politics, defence and security. The emphasis is on the peaceful settlement of disputes by negotiation, conciliation, mediation and arbitration. In this context the Organ Protocol addresses both intra- and inter-state conflict and stipulates principles for collective action in managing such conflict.

In order to operationalise the Organ the Protocol establishes the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security. This structure includes the: the Chairperson of the Organ, the Plenary Ministerial Committee and the Inter-State Politics and Diplomacy Committee (ISPDC) and Inter-State Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC). Currently a Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO) is in the process of being developed. The SIPO will set the framework, work programme and operational parameters for the functioning of the Organ.

Critical to the management of the Organ is the Organ Troika. The Troika is made up of three member states that are not members of the SADC Troika. The Chairperson of the Organ reports directly to the SADC Summit. As at 25 September 2002 the Chair of the Organ is Mozambique, the in coming Chair is Tanzania and Zimbabwe is the outgoing Chair.

With regard to SADC meetings and conferences, South Africa is an active participant and has hosted many Ministerial and Official meetings. South Africa became the first member state of SADC to host both the Summit in 1995 and the following Annual Consultative Conference in one financial year. We have also hosted special Summits on the situation in Nigeria in 1996 and the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August 1998. Furthermore, South Africa hosted the OAU Conference on Landmines which served as a precursor to the Ottawa Convention.

At the 1996 SADC Heads of State Summit in Maseru, South Africa was elected as Chair of SADC for a period of 3 years. During its chairmanship five SADC protocols reached the implementation stage and the organisation adopted some recommendations regarding the rationalisation of its structures and programme of action.

Quick Links:

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 12 February, 2004 4:05 PM
This site is best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution with Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher.
2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa