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Explainer: Trade and security talks take centre stage at SADC Ordinary Summit in Kinshasa

Cape Town – The 42nd Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was held on August 17, 2022, in Kinshasa, the Capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Role call

The summit, which was attended by heads of state and government and/or their representatives of: Kingdom of Eswatini, , DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kingdom of Lesotho, Angola, Madagascar,

Elias Mpedi Magosi, SADC executive secretary was also in attendance, while Dr Vera Songwe, secretary-general of UNECA delivered pre-recorded remarks to the summit.

Internal Elections

Delegates at the summit elected Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as chairperson of SADC, and João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of Angola as the incoming chairperson of SADC.

The summit also elected Dr. Hage G. Geingob, President of the Republic Namibia, as Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia as Incoming Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

The outgoing chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, President Cyril Ramaphosa gave his report to delegates on developments in the organ on politics, defence and security matters, while delegates from SADC commended Ramaphosa for his outstanding leadership and continued efforts to address peace and security threats during the year, notwithstanding the challenges posed by Covid-19.

Security update – Kingdom of Lesotho

The summit received a progress report from the SADC Facilitator to the Kingdom of Lesotho, Cyril Ramaphosa on the implementation of SADC decisions in the Kingdom of Lesotho and while noting the progress made, it urged the Government to expedite completion of the ongoing reforms, and to continue with peace, transitional justice and reconciliation process to engender national unity, and bring about national healing and cohesion, the summit heard.

SADC has, on more than one occasion, had to intervene militarily in member states.

SADC Military Intervention in Member States

SADC troops have deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and more recently to Mozambique, to deal with an extremist insurgency in the Cabo Delgado region.

In 2014, political instability in Lesotho led to the military becoming involved, by surrounding the Prime Minister’s residence, police headquarters and shutting down radio stations in the Kingdom, leading to Prime Minister Thabane fleeing to South Africa.

Katharine Bebington, who is a programme officer in the Research Department at Accord said recently that the SADC intervention in Lesotho, whilst preventing the situation from deteriorating further, was not able to bring about lasting political stability in the Kingdom.

Bebington did say however, that the SADC intervention in Lesotho does demonstrate that the bloc is willing and able to deploy political and military interventions, as may be needed, to prevent and manage conflict.

While the circumstances of the SADC intervention in Lesotho are not the same as the current unrest in Eswatini, parallels and lessons can nonetheless be drawn, said Bebington.

At the 42nd Ordinary Conference, the delegates approved the establishment of an oversight committee made up of the SADC Panel of Elders (PoE) and the Mediation Reference Group (MRG) to ensure continuity and oversight on the implementation of reforms in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Cabo Delgado Province Mozambique

The summit received updates on the Security Situation in Cabo Delgado Province, in the northern part of the Republic of Mozambique, and approved the extension of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) and its related processes.

Summit commended SAMIM Personnel Contributing Countries (PCCs) for their solidarity and sacrifice in supporting the Mission, and expressed condolences to the governments and families of the nine (9) deceased SAMIM personnel who died in the theatre of operations.

Eastern DRC Security Issues

Summit expressed concern and solidarity on the latest security developments in eastern DRC, and mandated the Chairperson of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ, supported by the Organ Troika FIB Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs), to engage the UN Secretary General on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September 2022, to explore all avenues to support efforts towards improving the security situation.

Eswatini Security Update

Summit welcomed a brief report presented by the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, regarding the security situation in the country, and while condemning the violence, it mandated the Chairperson of the Organ to convene an Extra-ordinary Summit of the Organ Troika plus Eswatini, at a date to be determined, aimed at finding a peaceful and lasting solution to the security challenges facing the country.

Meanwhile, according to Ringisai Chikohomero, a researcher for the Institute for Security Studies the Eswatini crisis is descending into violent conflict, with the bombing of state institutions and attacks against security forces on the rise.

Brutal repression of protests and apparent abductions of civil society members continue, says Chikohomero.

“Regional efforts to contain the situation and get the parties to talk also seem to be waning. The much-anticipated dialogue promised during South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to the country at the end of 2021 hasn’t happened,” Chikohomero adds.

If you recall, a special summit of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation to discuss the Eswatini crisis, slated for 21 July, was cancelled at the last minute, with Eswatini government spokesperson Alpheous Nxumalo having denied that the eSwatini Government snubbed an Extraordinary Summit that sought to find solutions to the ongoing political crisis in the Kingdom.

Maritime Threats in the SADC Region

The summit expressed concern on the continued Maritime security threats affecting the Region’s development aspirations, in particular, those emerging in the western part of the Indian Ocean.

In this regard, the summit urged Member States to expedite the implementation of the SADC Maritime Integrated Strategy and its Action Plan.

Terrorism

Summit welcomed the establishment of the SADC Regional Counter-Terrorism Centre (SADC-RCTC) in the United Republic of Tanzania (URT), as an institution that coordinates counter terrorism activities in the region, and urged Member States to strengthen cooperation and information sharing on terrorism, radicalism and violent extremism.

Elections in the SADC region

Delegates in attendance applauded the successful general elections in the Republic of Zambia in August 2021, and the peaceful transition of power, and noted the readiness of the governments of Angola and the Kingdom of Lesotho to hold their general and national assembly elections on 24th August 2022 and 7th October 2022, respectively.

Honouring of SADC Founders

In recognition of the legacy and contribution by SADC founders, the summit handed over medals to the family representatives of the nine respective Founders of SADC, and mandated the Chairperson of the Organ to coordinate the process leading up to the unveiling of the Statue in memory of the late President Julius Kambarage Nyerere at the African Union (AU) headquarters.

Panel of Elders (PoE)

Summit approved the appointment of Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Paramasivum Pillay B. Vyapoory, former Vice President of the Republic of Mauritius as the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Panel of Elders (POE), respectively, a SADC structure with the mandate to facilitate the prevention, management and resolution of significant inter and intra-State conflicts, and is supported by the Mediation Reference Group (MRG).

Africa – USA -China

Interestingly, the summit expressed its dissatisfaction against the continent being targeted for unilateral and punitive measures through the ‘Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act that was recently adopted by the United States House of Representatives and reaffirmed its principled position of Non-Alignment to any conflicts outside the Continent, and directed that the matter be included in the agenda of the African Union.

If you’re note aware, essentially, the new law US piece of legislation looks to punish states that back certain Russian actions could have major implications for African countries.

Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap; and the socio-economic situation

The summit received reports on the status of the implementation of the Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap; and the socio-economic situation in the region including regional economic performance; regional food and nutrition security; gender and development; status of health in the region; and disaster risk management.

Summit endorsed a theme of the 42nd SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government, titled “Promoting Industrialization through, Agro-Processing, Mineral Beneficiation, and Regional Value Chains for Inclusive and Resilient Economic Growth’’ The theme takes into account the current operating environment in the Region and the urgent need to enhance the roll out of SADC industrialization and market integration programmes as contained in the RISDP (2020-2030).

In a Summit approved and signed the Agreement Amending the SADC Treaty on Transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament; and the Agreement Amending the Protocol on Development of Tourism in SADC.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers met in Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi on 18-19 March, 2022 to review the implementation of programmes aimed at promoting and deepening regional integration, cooperation and economic development.

Summit adopted the Memorandum of Agreement amongst the Southern African Development Community Member States for the Establishment of SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre and referred it to the Ministers Responsible for Disaster Risk Management for signature.

Human Trafficking

The summit adopted and signed the Protocol against Trafficking in Persons, to provide a framework of cooperation between Member States in combating trafficking in persons and associated transnational organised and cross-border crimes in the Region.

In 2020, the bloc announced that was finalising a legal instrument that will help intensify efforts to respond to the rising trafficking in persons, which is among the world’s fastest growing organised crimes.

Delegates approved the appointment of Angele Makombo N’Tumba, a citizen of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as the new SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration.

The summit commended the outgoing SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo, from South Africa, for having served the Secretariat.

The next SADC Summit will be held at a venue and date still to be determined, after consultation with the next SADC Chairperson.

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