L’Histoire et le Traité

The predecessor of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC), established in 1980 in Lusaka, Zambia.

This background on the History of SADC and the establishment of the SADC Treaty are discussed through the following:

  • Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference
  • The Transformation from SADCC to SADC
  • The SADC Treaty
  • Amendment of the Treaty of SADC

Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference

In 1992, Heads of Government of the region agreed to transform SADCC into the Southern African Development Community (SADC), with the focus on integration of economic development. SADC members are Angola, Botswana, DR Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

SADCC was formed to advance the cause of national political liberation in Southern Africa, and to reduce dependence particularly on the then apartheid era South Africa; through effective coordination of utilisation of the specific characteristics and strengths of each country and its resources. SADCC objectives went beyond just dependence reduction to embrace basic development and regional integration. Hence, SADCC was formed with four principal objectives, namely:

  • Reduction of Member State dependence, particularly, but not only, on apartheid South Africa.
  • Forging of linkages to create genuine and equitable regional integration.
  • Mobilisation of Member States’ resources to promote the implementation of national, interstate and regional policies.
  • Concerted action to secure international cooperation within the framework of the strategy for economic liberation.

Shown below is the conference (SADCC) and community (SADC) population size and gross domestic product (GDP) at the time of establishment (1980) and currently (2012):

  Year GDP Population
SADCC 1980 to 1992 US$ 20 Billion 60 million
SADC 1992 to present US $ 471.1 Billion 257.7 million

The Transformation from SADCC to SADC

The formation of SADC was the result of a long process of consultation by the leaders of Southern Africa as described below:

  • From 1977, active consultations were undertaken by representatives of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, working together as Frontline States, culminating in a meeting of Foreign Ministries of the Frontline States in Gaborone, Botswana, in May 1979, which called for a meeting of ministers responsible for economic development.
  • That meeting was subsequently convened in Arusha, Tanzania, in July 1979. The Arusha meeting led to the birth of the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC) a year later.
  • SADCC was officially formed on 1st April, 1980 comprising of all the majority ruled states of Southern Africa, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Heads of States and government of the Frontline States and representatives of the governments of Lesotho, Malawi, and Swaziland signed the Lusaka Declaration “Towards Economic Liberation” in Lusaka, Zambia and thus SADCC was born.
  • The SADCC was subsequently formalised by means of a Memorandum of Understanding on the Institutions of the Southern African Development Coordination Conference dated 20th July 1981.
  • In 1989, the Summit of Heads of State or Government, meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, decided that SADCC should be formalised to “give it an appropriate legal status … to replace the Memorandum of Understanding with an Agreement, Charter or Treaty.”
  • On August 17 1992, at a Summit held in Windhoek, Namibia, the Heads of State and Government signed the SADC Declaration and Treaty that effectively transformed the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) into the Southern African Development Community (SADC). SADC was established under Article 2 of the SADC Treaty by SADC Member States represented by their respective Heads of State and Government, or duly authorised representatives, to spearhead economic integration of Southern Africa. The objective also shifted to include economic integration following the independence of the rest of the Southern African countries.
  • On 14 August 2001, in Blantyre, Malawi, the SADC Heads of State and Government signed an Agreement Amending the 1992 SADC Treaty to establish the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan.

The SADC Treaty

The SADC Treaty was signed to establish SADC as the successor to the Southern African Coordinating Conference (SADCC). This Treaty sets out the main objectives of SADC - to achieve development and economic growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration. These objectives are to be achieved through increased regional integration, built on democratic principles, and equitable and sustainable development.

The SADC Treaty established a series of Institutional Mechanisms, including the following:

Amendment of the SADC Treaty

Following the establishment of the SADC Treaty, SADC undertook an exercise to restructure its institutions and at an Extra-ordinary Summit on March 9, 2001 in Windhoek, Namibia, the SADC Treaty Amendment(2001) was adopted. This restructuring was part of institutional reform necessitated by a number of difficulties and constraints encountered in the transition from a coordinating Conference into a Community. These reforms established eight (8) institutions, under the guidance of Article 9 of the Treaty Amendment, including the following:

The SADC Treaty was also amended with an Agreement that established the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP). This plan, based on the strategic priorities of SADC and the Common Agenda, is designed to provide strategic direction with respect to SADC projects, programmes and activities. 

    Historical Timeline