Southern African Development Community
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is an inter-governmental organization for socio-economic, political and security cooperation among 15 southern African states. It complements the African Union.
The immediate forerunner of the political and security cooperation leg of today's SADC was the informal Front Line States (FLS) grouping. It was formed in 1980.
SADCC was transformed into SADC on 17 August 1992, with the adoption by the founding members of SADCC and newly independent Namibia of the Windhoek declaration and treaty establishing SADC. The 1992 SADC provided for both socio-economic cooperation and political and security cooperation. In reality, the FLS was dissolved only in 1994, after South Africa's first democratic elections. Subsequent efforts to place political and security cooperation on a firm institutional footing under SADC's umbrella failed.
On 14 August 2001, the 1992 SADC treaty was amended. The amendment heralded the overhaul of the structures, policies and procedures of SADC, a process which is ongoing. One of the changes is that political and security cooperation is institutionalised in the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security (OPDS). One of the principal SADC bodies, it is subject to the oversight of the organisation's supreme body, the Summit, which comprises the heads of state or government.
In 2008, the SADC agreed to establish a free trade zone with the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) including all members of each of the organizations.
 Member states
SADC has 14 member states, namely:
- Namibia - since 31 March 1990 (since independence)
- South Africa - since 30 August 1994
- Mauritius - since 28 August 1995
- Democratic Republic of the Congo - since 8 September 1997
- Madagascar - since 18 August 2005
- Seychelles had also previously been a member of SADC from 8 September 1997 until 1 July 2004 than joined again in 2008.
 Challenges facing member countries
SADC countries face many social, development, economic, trade, education, health, diplomatic, defence, security and political challenges. Some of these challenges cannot be tackled effectively by individual members. Cattle diseases and organised-crime gangs know no boundaries. War in one country can suck in its neighbours and damage their economies. The sustainable development that trade could bring is threatened by the existence of different product standards and tariff regimes, weak customs infrastructure and bad roads. The socio-economic and political and security cooperation aims of SADC are equally wide-ranging, and intended to address the various common challenges.
 Aims of the SADC
SADC's aims are set out in the treaty establishing the organisation (SADC treaty); various protocols (other SADC treaties, such as the corruption protocol, the firearms protocol, the OPDS protocol, the health protocol and the education protocol); development and cooperation plans such as the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ (SIPO); and declarations such as those on HIV and AIDS and food security.
In some areas, mere coordination of national activities and policies is the aim of cooperation. In others, the member states aim at more far-reaching forms of cooperation. For example, the members largely aim to coordinate their foreign policies, but they aim to harmonise their trade and economic policies with a view to one day establishing a common market with common regulatory institutions.
 Decision-making procedures
Except for the Tribunal (based in Windhoek, Namibia), SNCs and Secretariat, decision-making is by consensus.
 SADC in practice
SADC is a weak organisation, under-resourced, and lacking the powers that member states agreed to give it when they launched the overhaul of the organisation in 2001.[verification needed]
A significant challenge is that member states also participate in other regional cooperation schemes that may compete with or undermine SADC's aims. For example, South Africa and Botswana both belong to the Southern Africa Customs Union, Zambia is a part of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and Tanzania is a member of the East African Community.
On Wednesday October 22, 2008, SADC joined with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the East African Community to form the African Free Trade Zone. The leaders of the three trading blocs agreed to create a single free trade zone, the African Free Trade Zone, consisting of 26 countries with a GDP of an estimated $624bn (£382.9bn). It is hoped the African Free Trade Zone agreement would ease access to markets within the zone and end problems arising from the fact that several of the member countries belong to multiple groups.
The African Free Trade Zone effective is the realization of a dream more than a hundred years in the making, a trade zone spanning the whole African continent from Cape to Cairo and envisioned by Cecil Rhodes and other British imperialists in the 1890's. The only difference is that the African Free Trade Zone is the creation of African Countries for the mutual benefit and development of its member countries. The idea is a free trade zone spanning the whole continent from Cape (Cape Town in the Republic of South Africa to Cairo in Egypt.
In addition to eliminating duplicative membership and the problem member states also participating in other regional economic cooperation schemes and regional political and security cooperation schemes that may compete with or undermine each other, the African Free Trade Zone further aims to strengthen the bloc's bargaining power when negotiating international deals.
Analysts believe that the African Free Trade Zone agreement will help intra-regional trade and boost growth.
 See also
- Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
- East African Community (EAC)
- Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
- List of Trade blocs
- Southern African Customs Union (SACU)
- Gabriël Oosthuizen, The Southern African Development Community: The organisation, its history, policies and prospects. Institute for Global Dialogue: Midrand, South Africa, 2006.
- John McCormick, The European Union: Politics and Policies. Westview Press: Boulder, Colorado, 2004.
- Ramsamy, Prega 2003 Global partnership for Africa. Presentation at The human rights conference on global partnerships for Africa’s development, Gaborone: SADC
- Southern African Development Community Official Web Site
- SADC Free Trade Agreement
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