Summit of Heads or State or Government

The SADC Summit is responsible for the overall policy direction and control of functions of the community, ultimately making it the policy-making institution of SADC. It is made up of all SADC Heads of States or Government and is managed on a Troika system that comprises of the current SADC Summit Chairperson, the incoming Chairperson (the Deputy Chairperson at the time), and the immediate previous Chairperson.

The Troika System vests authority in this group to take quick decisions on behalf of SADC that are ordinarily taken at policy meetings scheduled at regular intervals, as well as providing policy direction to SADC Institutions in between regular SADC Summits. This system has been effective since it was established by the Summit at its annual meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, in August 1999. Other member States may be co-opted into the Troika as and when necessary.

The Troika system operates at the level of the Summit, the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, the Council of Ministers and the Standing Committee of Senior Officials. Application of two Troikas at the level of the Standing Committee of Senior Officials, which comprises Permanent, or Principal Secretaries or accounting for government offices, ministries or departments and at the level of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation is referred to as the Double Troika.

The Summit usually meets once a year around August/September in a member State at which a new Chairperson and Deputy are elected.