Moses Magadza – Johannesburg, South Africa
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.
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 2020 at the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government to deepen regional integration, end poverty and spur socio-economic development.
SNCs are key drivers of regional integration. Article 16 A of the SADC Treaty makes it obligatory for each SADC state to establish an SNC whose composition should include non-state actors, government, private sector, civil society, NGOs, workers and employers’ organisations.
In terms of the critical roles, the SNCs are mandated to provide input at the 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 effective implementation of SADC programmes within the Member States for the benefit of citizens.
The three-day hybrid dialogue was on the update on the implementation of the RISDP 2020-30. It occurred in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 13-15 September 2022.
The dialogue noted the GIZ Strengthening National and Regional Linkages in SADC programme (SNRL), being implemented with SADC Secretariat, Member States, NSAs, and other stakeholders, focuses on implementing the strategic legal frameworks in member states to strengthen the SADC regional integration agenda.
The SNRL programme, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), was established to support SADC member states in coordinating and facilitating the implementation of SADC commitments.
It supports the acceleration of progress towards implementing 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 implementing legal strategies and frameworks. It is being implemented under three main pillars 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 the citizens, the third pillar of the framework supports capacities for enhancing communication and profiling the activities and impact of SADC activities at the national level. The media and NSA from our partners for raising awareness among citizens on regional integration is a crucial part of moving forward.
In what is being held out as an example of best practice, Mozambique has established an SNC called CONSADC with a model that some delegates said was worth emulating.
One of the critical 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 funded speaks of the political will expressed through legislation.
The composition of the CONSADC provides 43 members with more or less equal representation of government ministers and NSAs. There are 19 ministers i.n 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 bring their expertise to the technical committees. For example, the Community Development Foundation has a significant role in the social human development cluster.
The SADC secretariat is fully funded by 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 coordinate the implementation of the SADC regional integration agenda and the African Union-related continental integration programmes.
The SNRL programme also helped the Kingdom of Eswatini develop an operational 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 relaunched an 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 strive 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 the NSA wanted to be involved in SADC activities but pulled out due to a 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 said.
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 placing its strategic focus.
“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, and 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 states 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 the governmental agenda and what is done under the SNC is what is done under the local developmental committees.
Musonda Trustwel from the Zambia ministry of finance said in 2018, Zambia aligned the SNC to the national development coordinating committee structures and has been implementing the first and second RISDP using the same national development structures since then.
“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 according to their areas of interest and operation. That’s why even the National Planning and Budgeting Act provides that as we do the MTEF, that is 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 said.