Toothless Sadc faces irrelevance


SOUTHERN Africa Development Community (Sadc) member states are now beginning to join other regional blocs, a move that political and economic analysts say was an indication that the regional body was losing its relevance.

Sadc is made up of 16 member states — Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Seychelles and Eswatini are all also members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). Zimbabwe joined Comesa in 1981. Other countries have since joined other regional blocs.

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Last week, DRC joined the East Africa Community (Eac) making it the seventh member state. Tanzania is also a member of the Eac.

Sadc has been under fire for unwillingness by other member states to have economic integration.

South African opposition leader Julius Malema once labelled the bloc as a ‘dictators club’ after endorsing sham elections in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Julius Malema

Sadc has also been criticised for its soft stance during political crises in member States.

“The issue of African countries having double membership will potentially weaken their allegiance in other regional institutions and threaten their existence depending on which ones are offering better value,” political analyst Vivid Gwede said.

He urged Sadc to have a clear plan and to define a clear value proposition which resonates with the needs of its member States.

“The same can be said about the African Union, some of whose State parties also belong to the Arab League”.

Renowned Zambian economist Munyumba Mutwale urged authorities to reconsider Zambia’s status as a member of Sadc and instead join EAC to harness the latter’s regional integration and trade potential.

“Zambia has no significant benefits from Sadc especially that South Africa has allegedly continued to resist regional integration in preference of its domination while losing DRC to the eastern bloc will injure the country’s economy.

“ With an integrated passport system, a regional currency and central bank among others envisaged by the eastern bloc, the DRC will completely take its trade to the east, hence Zambia will lose out 10% of the country’s total copper exports come from there,”  Mutwale said.

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Zambian economist Munyumba Mutwale

International relations analyst Gibson Nyikadzino said: “What the DRC did is part of what is necessary in international relations management to advance State interests. Whenever this happens where a country joins another bloc, it speaks of interests. Tanzania is in the EAC but is also a member of Sadc. Rwanda and Mozambique are members of the Commonwealth Group of Nations but were never colonised by Britain.”

He said global village interdependence is that hallmark of relations management.

International relations analyst Gibson Nyikadzino

“Sadc is one unique, stable and secure region in Africa and to imply what the DRC did as a show of no confidence in our regional bloc is being off tangent. Interests vary from state to state and each has the ability to do what is necessary for them to survive,” Nyikadzino said.

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