By | January 20, 2022


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.