Johannesburg - A regional dialogue convened by a collaboration of southern African organisations, led by the Partnership for Social Accountability (PSA) Alliance recently, has concluded that political will, anchored on enabling national legislation or policies, is needed to set up effective SADC National Committees (SNCs) if the region is to benefit from the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2020-2030 (RISDP).
Covering strategic priority areas that include peace, security and good governance; social and human capital development; cross-cutting issues including gender, youth, environment and climate change; and disaster risk management, the RISDP was approved by the 2020 SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government to deepen regional integration, end poverty and spur socioeconomic development.
SNCs are key drivers of regional integration. Article 16 A of the SADC Treaty makes it obligatory for each SADC state to establish a SNC, whose composition
should include non-state actors, government, the private sector, civil society, NGOs, workers and employers’ organisations.
In terms of the key roles, the SNCs are mandated to provide input at national level on the design of SADC policies, programmes and actions. So, this duty lies at the heart of what SNCs are created to do. When adequately resourced and fully functional, SNCs have the potential to drive the effective implementation of SADC programmes within member states for the benefit of citizens.
The three-day hybrid dialogue was on
the update on the implementation of the RISDP 2020 to 2030. It took place in Johannesburg, South Africa from 13 to 15 September 2022.
The dialogue noted that the GIZ Strengthening National and Regional Linkages in SADC programme (SNRL), being implemented with the SADC Secretariat, Member States, NSAs and other
stakeholders, focuses on implementing the legal strategic frameworks in member states to strengthen the SADC regional integration agenda. The SNRL programme that is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), was established to support SADC member states to coordinate and facilitate the implementation of SADC commitments.
It supports the acceleration of progress towards the implementation of the SADC regional integration agenda through strengthening the capacities of institutions at the national level. The SNRL is in its second phase of implementation. The first phase
took place between 2016 and July 2022. It supports member states and stakeholders with the implementation of legal strategies and frameworks. It is being implemented under three main pillars of strengthening national coordination structures for regional integration; strengthening monitoring and compliance mechanisms; and enhancing communication and awareness of the benefits of SADC regional integration programmes at the national level. The programme focuses on the institutional frameworks for implementing regional integration, at the heart of which lies the SNCs.
The dialogue noted that the importance of monitoring and evaluation had put a lot of emphasis on enhancing member states’ capacity to monitor and evaluate the implementation process and report so that the region can see progress and where the gaps are and through that evidence, inform policy changes. On visibility and connection with citizens, the third pillar of the framework supports capacities for enhancing communication and profiling the activities and impact of SADC activities at national level. The media and NSA formations are partners for raising awareness among citizens on regional integration, which is meant to be a key part of moving forward.
In what is being held out as an example of best practice, Mozambique has established a SNC called CONSADC, with a model that some delegates said was worth emulating.
One of the key features of the SNC of Mozambique is that it was established by a presidential decree and then approved by Cabinet in 2002, thus putting the SNC of Mozambique on a solid legal foundation. The way CONSADC was set up and is funded speaks of political will expressed through legislation. The composition of CONSADC provides for 43 members with more or less equal representation of government ministers and NSAs. There are 19 ministers in CONSADC and 18 representatives of NSAs, who include CEOs of civic society organisations, trade unions and private sector associations.
Additionally, in the structures of CONSADC, NSAs have leading roles in technical clusters, and they bring their expertise to the technical committees. For example, the Community Development Foundation has a big role in the social human development cluster.
The CONSADC secretariat is fully-funded from the state budget, which is in compliance with the provisions of the amended SADC Treaty.
The dialogue noted that Zambia, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo had also put in place structures that not only take care of coordinating the implementation of the SADC regional integration agenda, but also the African Union-related continental integration programmes.
It emerged that the SNRL programme
had also helped the Kingdom of Eswatini develop an operating model blueprint for the SNCs and national structures for implementing regional integration.
Representatives of different SADC countries who participated in the dialogue virtually shared their countries’ experiences.
Faith Mwalubunju, deputy director for Africa in Malawi’s ministry of foreign
affairs, said they re-launched a SNC in April 2021 after it had been dormant for long.
“We relaunched it as we were taking over the chair from Mozambique. It’s been an ongoing experience, and we are striving to get there. After the launch, we have ensured to have an NSA representative within our national structure or national committee.”
She said one major challenge was a lack of resources to facilitate the meeting of NSAs, as there had been instances when NSA wanted to be involved in SADC activities, but pulled out due to lack of resources.
“We have tried to engage the Malawi Human Rights Committee for elections observations in Angola, but they indicated that they could not participate. It is very difficult for the government to provide finances for NSA to participate in SADC meetings,” she observed.
From Mozambique, ambassador Pedro Cossa said his country tries to ensure its civil society organisations are involved in the work of SADC. He said every year, the SNC receives visitors from the other SADC states to see how NSAs in Mozambique operate.
Cossa said the Mozambican government funds the RISDP programmes in the country through the national budget allocated to different ministries that identify the activities to be done. Each ministry contributes to the budget by identifying its own strategic
“We have the budget, and we ask each ministry in the country to identify the action that the region has decided to do under the strategic plan. Each institution should indicate the budget that is needed for the implementation of such action, which means the amount and the cost of RISDP are among the different institutions of state that they present activities that should be done until 2030,” the ambassador said.
Shadrack Saili of the Zambian foreign affairs ministry said the country had incorporated the SNC into the National Development Coordination Committee (NDCC) for which they use a governmental agenda and as such, what is done under the SNC is exactly what is done under the local developmental committees.
Musonda Trustwel from the Zambian ministry of finance said in 2018, Zambia aligned the SNC to the national development coordinating committee structures. Since then, they have been implementing the first and second RISDP, using the same national development structures.
“This is in line with what has been provided for in the National Planning and Budgeting Act, which we harmonised to avoid the duplicitous proliferation of our structures. We have set these structures, and incorporated the NSA in these development structures.
“We have allocated the NSAs in accordance with their areas of interest and operation. That’s why even the National Planning and Budgeting Act provides that as we do the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, for the three years to come, the NSAs are supposed to make submissions regarding resource allocation for the years to come,” he added.