Southern African Development Community (SADC)

General Information


When political and economic environment in the region changed, there arose a need for a paradigm shift and changing the focus and subsequently the name of the then SADCC to SADC effected this. The former was an institution striving for reduction of economic independence, particularly on South Africa while the latter is a development community working towards regional integration and a free trade area. SADC (Southern African Development Community) is a regional organisation consisting of 14 Member Countries (Angola, Botswana, Congo (DR), Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe). Seychelles is still in the process of ratifying the SADC Treaty.

The purpose of SADC is to create a regional community, which would provide peace and security, cooperation in fields of shared interests, and ultimately an integrated economy. It provides a forum where regional planning is done with the goal of encouraging self-sustaining development in Southern Africa, which is based on collective self-reliance and inter-dependence of Member States. It is built on the principle of achieving sustainable utilisation of natural resources and effective protection of the environment.

Each member state has been allocated a sector to coordinate, which involves proposing sector policies, strategies and priorities, and processing projects for inclusion in the sectoral programme, monitoring progress and reporting to the Council of Ministers.

The structure of SADC

The Summit: made up of heads of State or Government, and is the ultimate policy-making institution. Meets at least once a year.

Council of Ministers: consists of Ministers from each member state and is responsible for overseeing the functioning and development of SADC and ensuring the policies are properly implemented. It advises the Summit on policy matters and approves SADC policies, strategies and work programmes and also decides upon sectoral areas of cooperation and the allocation of responsibility for carrying out the sectoral activities. The Council also meets at least once a year.

Sectoral Committees and Commissions : may be established as and when necessary, through a convention or other instruments approved by the Summit and ratified by member States. Commissions are regional institutions supported by all member states and they report to the Council.

Standing Committee of Officials: each member State is represented by a Director- General, or Permanent Secretary in other countries. This committee acts as a technical advisory committee to the Council to whom it reports. It meets at least once a year as well.

National Contact Points: located in the Ministry/Department responsible for SADC matters and act as a vital link between other agencies of government and SADC organs. In South Africa the Department of Foreign Affairs is the National Contact Point.

Sector Coordinating Units : responsible for arranging meetings, distributing information to all member countries, and performs other sector coordination functions. These are part of national governments staffed mainly by civil servants of the sector coordinating country and their activities are financed from national budgets.

Sectoral Contact Points : All government ministries with line responsibilities for SADC sectors are sectoral contact points and work closely with the respective sector coordinating units in the preparation of sectoral policies and strategies, and of formulation of project proposals.

The Secretariat is responsible for strategic planning and management of SADC programmes. Headed by an Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the Summit, the Secretariat is charged with the task of implementing decisions made by the Summit and the Council, and financial and general administration of the Community.

A Tribunal ensures adherence to, and proper interpretation of the provisions of the SADC Treaty and subsidiary instruments, and to adjudicate upon disputes referred to it.


SADC Sectors

Member States are each allocated a sector to coordinate. At the moment the sectors are allocated as follows:




Livestock production and Animal disease control;
Agricultural and natural resources research and training (SACCAR is a coordinating body)

Congo (DR)

New memberóno sector


Water; Environment and Land Management


Inland fisheries, Forestry and Wildlife




Culture and Information;
Transport and communication


Marine fisheries and resources


New member- no sector

South Africa

Finance and Investment;


Human resources development


Trade and industry


Employment and Labour


Overall coordination of FANR;
Food security;

Technical committees and sub-committees, comprising each of experts in a particular field from member States are constituted to advice the sector coordinating units. The technical sub-committees feed into technical committees, and each meets ones a year to discuss progress made by the sectors, agree on policy issues and they plan activities for the year. The issues emanating from these meetings get placed on the agenda for the meeting of the Sectoral Committee of Senior Officials which also meets ones a year. The committee of Senior Officials recommends its decisions to the committee of sectoral Ministers, which in turn submits its decisions to Council.


Protocols spell out the objectives and scope of cooperation and integration. More or less every sector is involved in the formulation and negotiation of a particular Protocol. South Africa has signed all 8 Protocols and ratified two namely the Protocol on Shared Water-Course Systems and on Transport, Communication and Meteorology. To date we have not ratified the protocols on Immunities and Privileges; Energy; Mining; Education and Training; Trade and combating Illicit Drug Trafficking in the Southern African region.

Last updated: 15/03/01