In May, 1979, the foreign ministers of the five Front Line States meeting in Gaborone decided to call a larger meeting in Arusha (SADCC 1) in July of that year to try to evolve a strategy for broadly-based cooperation in southern Africa. At the Arusha conference in addition to the Front Line States nine bilateral and a number of multilateral aid organisations (World Bank, Commonwealth Secretariat, European Community, African Development Bank and a number of UN organisations) took part as observers. The conference was united in forming the SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COORDINATION CONFERENCE (SADCC). The transport and communications sector in the region was considered to be particularly crucial and demanded immediate attention. Consequently, the decision was taken to establish the SOUTHERN AFRICAN TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (SATCC) with headquarters in Maputo. Other important questions discussed at the conference dealt with energy, soil and water conservation, training and food production, with the special purpose of reducing dependence on imports from South Africa. As a contribution to the section on agriculture the INTERNATIONAL CROP RESEARCH INSTITUTE FDR SEMI-ARID TROPICS (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, offered to start a branch in the region, or, to be more exact, in Botswana. In its research and development projects, the Institute is to investigate the special agricultural problems faced in the extensive dry areas of the region.
The discussions in Arusha were concluded with the endorsement of a proposed declaration containing four principal goals for cooperation within SADCC:
(1) to reduce economic dependence on South Africa in particular, but also on other countries;
(2) to institute a true and just integration of the states in the region;
(3) to mobilise resources for national, international and regional projects; and
(4) to act together towards securing financial and technical assistance within the framework of a strategy for economic liberation.
Action Programme and Financial Provision
The Arusha conference was followed in April by a summit meeting in Lusaka, the first meeting at which all nine member states took part, including Zimbabwe, which had just become independent. The summit endorsed unanimously the Lusaka Declaration, a formal presentation of the proposed main objectives of SADCC, which in turn emphasised the following spheres of activity :
(1) transport and communications;
(3) training, especially within the transport and agriculture sectors;
(4) industrial development; and
Within the framework of the action programme it was calculated that 1.5 milliard dollars would be needed during the eighties for the regional projects. It would be impossible to generate so much money within SADCC. Tb maintain the momentum of the development programme it would be necessary to be assured of considerable external financial support. Consequently, it was decided that at the next plenary meeting, which was to be held in Maputo in November, 1980 (SADCC 2), the problem of funding should be the main subject. Thirty governments and bilateral aid organisations together with twenty multi-lateral and international bodies were represented at Maputo. The result was that the donor organisations undertook to support the regional projects within SADCC to the extent of 650 million dollars spread over a five year period from 1980 to 1985.
The SADCC projects were set in motion and at the Blantyre conference in November, 1981, the time had come for the first evaluation. It transpired that the greatest progress had been made in the transport and communications sector and that many projects were in full swing. Even within the agriculture and food sectors as well as within the industry sector progress had been made. Less satisfactory was the position with energy and land conservation. The main question before the conference was finance. One year after the Maputo conference only 273 million dollars out of the promised 650 million had actually been committed in legally binding agreements. This factor had obviously reduced somewhat the tempo of development. Delays in obtaining the release of funds can in part be attributed to bureaucratic sluggishness, but it is unfortunately true that in some cases political problems were associated with the delays. In January, 1983, a new meeting with various donors was held in Maseru, where about 200 million dollars were promised.
Unanimous decisions at all levels
Sir Seretse Khama, at that time chairman of SADCC, stated in his opening address to the summit meeting in Lusaka in 1980 that cooperation within SADCC should be built on ‘concrete projects and specific programmes rather than on grandiose schemes and massive bureaucratic institutions’. This motto has since then characterised the manner in which SADCC has attacked regional cooperation. A decentralised model and a decision-making process requiring unanimity at all levels was decided upon. A limited number of institutions have in the meantime been developed and formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding of the SADCC, which was adopted at a summit meeting in Harare in July, 1981.
The Summit is the highest authority in SADCC with responsibility for general policy and for the control of activities. The summit consists of the chiefs of the member states and it meets at least once a year. All decisions must be unanimous.
The Council, which consists of one minister from each member state, is responsible for overall planning, general coordination, control of the organisation’s various institutions and supervising the implementation of programmes. The Council approves the work programme of SADCC and appoints the member state charged with the coordination of activities within a particular area of work. The Council meets at least once a year and all decisions must be unanimous.
Sectoral Commissions can be set up for programmes within particular areas of activity. The Southern African Transport and Communications Commission (SATCC) is such a commission. It is possible that similar commissions will be set up within the energy, agriculture and industry sectors. The Commissions report to the Council.
A Standing Committee of Officials responsible to the Council has been established. It also must meet at least once yearly and its decisions must be unanimous. Finally, a small Secretariat has been established in Gaborone, which is responsible for serving the various SADCC institutions. The Director of the secretariat is responsible for and rapporteur to the Council. The Council also occupies a key position in respect of planning within SADCC with sectoral commissions, a permanent committee of officials and a secretariat as executive organ. Outside this structure are the annual conferences (SADCC 1, SADCC 2, etc.) to which the various aid organisations are invited.
Distribution of responsibility
The ongoing work is in large measure decentralised. Each member state has been allocated its special sphere of responsibility. Angola is responsible for coordination in the energy sector. Botswana has been given development research and activities connected with cattle diseases. Lesotho shares with Zimbabwe responsibility for land conservation and land use. Malawi coordinates the conservation of fish and wild animals. Mozambique, on account of its central situation in the region, has been allocated the coordination of the important transport and communications sector. Swaziland is responsible for the coordination of manpower development and training. For the time being it is also responsible for the health sector. Tanzania has special responsibility for industrial development. Zambia is responsible for the Southern African Development Fund and for the mining sector. Zimbabwe, finally, has been given the foodstuffs sector, land conservation and development (jointly with Lesotho) and the printing of securities (currency, cheques, state bonds, etc.).
SADCC can be characterised by concepts such as pragmatism, decentralisation and unanimity in decision-making. It deals with limited, concrete projects within the region and works towards increased cooperation in line with its principal common goals. The decentralised mode of operation has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that bureaucratisation is avoided and money is saved. The main drawback may be deficient coordination between sectors. A system requiring unanimity in decision-making at all levels (in contrast to majority decisions) assumes as a prerequisite that unanimity between such different states will generally speaking be attainable. The member countries are of course most dissimilar in respect of size, resources, stage of development and political aims. The disadvantage of this model may well be that progress is slower when all the time it is necessary to aim at the lowest common denominator. But with a ‘speedier’ model based on majority decisions and a supranational organisational structure, the organisation might all the time be threatened with collapse.
During the short time that the organisation has existed, it seems that SADCC has made relatively good progress. Development has got furthest in the transport sector. The South African regime clearly sees SADCC as a threat and conducts an aggressive destabilisation policy against its neighbours – a policy, however, which rebounds upon it and threatens its own commercial interests in the region.
Maria Jerkland Aberg
Note: The above article is translated from the Swedish and omits the first part, which describes the present economic geography of southern Africa. The article, in turn, constitutes a summary of ‘Dependence and collective self-reliance in southern Africa: the case of the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC)’, by Arne Tostensen (Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, Uppsala, 1982).