How signatures hold back SADC – Key protocols gather dust
By Kizito Sikuka
THE aspirations of southern African states are clearly spelt out in the Declaration and Treaty that established the shared community of SADC.
The aspirations are a united, prosperous and integrated region.
In pursuit of these targets, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has signed numerous protocols and other policy documents in various key areas, ranging from trade and investment, peace and security, to transboundary natural resources and the empowerment of women and young people.
In fact, since the transformation of SADC in 1992 from the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), a total of 33 protocols have been signed by member states to push forward the regional integration agenda.
However, not all the protocols have been ratified to advance the regional laws from being stated intentions to actual application.
According to SADC legal statutes, any signed regional protocol should be ratified by member countries for it to enter into force at national level in the 15 member states.
At least two-thirds of the member states (10 countries) are required to ratify a protocol for it to enter into force.
The process of approval of a regional legal instrument requires, first, signing, and then ratification – a process that differs from country to country, with some requiring the approval of parliament.
Meeting at the just ended 36th SADC Summit held in Mbabane, the Kingdom of Swaziland on 30-31 August, southern African leaders expressed concern at the slow pace of advancing regional integration policies from stated intentions to actual application.
The slow implementation of strategic documents by SADC countries has affected regional integration, resulting in most people in the region failing to fully realise maximum benefits of belonging to a share community in southern Africa.
“Summit took stock of the status of signature, ratification and accession to SADC Protocols noting that 26 have entered into force, while seven have not yet come into force,” reads part of a communiqué issued by the leaders soon after the summit.
The leaders “urged member states that are yet to accede to these protocols to do so”, to ensure the aspirations of SADC are met.
The seven SADC protocols yet to be ratified by member states are:
l Protocol on Science, Technology and Innovation signed in 2008. It aims to promote development and harmonisation of science, technology, and innovation policies, advocating investment in research and development and promoting public awareness of science and technology;
l Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons signed in 2005. It seeks to fulfil the objectives of the SADC Treaty, which requires member states to develop policies aimed at the progressive elimination of obstacles to the free movement of capital and labour, goods and services and of the people of the region generally among member states;
l Protocol on Trade in Services signed in 2012. The protocol, among other things, provides for the establishment of “an integrated regional market for services”, to unlock the potential of the region’s services market so that businesses and consumers may take full advantage of the opportunities presented by a shared community in SADC;
l Protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development signed in 2014. It aims to harmonise all existing regional instruments that deal with environmental issues;
l Protocol on Employment and Labour signed in 2014. The protocol provides and recognises the importance of collective bargaining; social dialogue and consultations among employers, trade unions and government, equal treatment and social protection for workers and their families in the region;
l New Protocol on the Tribunal in the Southern African Development Community signed in 2014. It specifies that the new Tribunal’s jurisdiction will be confined to advisory interpretation of the SADC Treaty and any other protocols adopted by member states; and the
l Agreement on Assistance in Tax Matters signed in 2012. It requires that member states draw up effective guidelines for the effective exchange of information and the implementation of mutual agreement procedures.
The 36th SADC Summit also urged member states to continue intensifying efforts to implement various regional activities, programmes and projects to ensure socio-economic development.
These include the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP), the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap and the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan.
For example, implementation of Energy Sector Plan of the RIDMP has the capacity to increase the power generation capacity of SADC from the current 56,000 megawatts (MW) and ensure that the projected demand of 96,000MW is surpassed within the next 11 years, making the SADC region energy self-sufficient.
The theme for the 36th SADC Summit was “Resource Mobilisation for Investment in Sustainable Energy Infrastructure for an Inclusive SADC Industrialisation for the Prosperity of the Region”.
At the summit, King Mswati III of Swaziland assumed the rotating SADC chair from President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa was elected deputy chair of SADC. – sardc.net