At least once a year, a summit is held between the Heads of State or Government of the Member States or their representatives. The summit is SADC’s highest decision-making body, which sets the guidelines for the organization and appoints its highest official, the so-called executive secretary.
In 1999, a troika system was introduced, consisting of the President of the Summit, the outgoing President and the next President. The troika can work between the summits and is there to make the work more efficient.
Representatives of SADC Member States at ministerial level meet at least once a year in a Council of Ministers. In addition, there are special meetings with, for example, energy ministers or communications ministers that are held to coordinate policy in a specific area.
The so-called Integrated Committee of Ministers was appointed in 2001 and works under the Council of Ministers. It consists of at least two ministers from each Member State. The committee coordinates activities relating to several different subject areas and has prepared a five-year regional development plan (RISDP) which forms the framework for SADC’s work.
National committees exist in each member state to ensure that SADC’s programs are implemented in the individual countries.
Standing for Southern African Development Community as listed on Abbreviationfinder, The SADC Secretariat is located in Gaborone, Botswana.
Under the Secretariat, four directorates that handle the areas that SADC gives the highest priority sort:
- Trade, industry, finance and investment
- Infrastructure and service
- Food, agriculture and natural resources
- Social and human development and special programs
A parliamentary forum was set up in 1997 to promote democracy and human rights in the region. Among other things, the department sends election monitors to the member countries. Its members are elected from the parliaments of the Member States for a term of five years. The department is self-governing and its office is located in Windhoek, Namibia. Money for the activities comes from the parliaments and governments of the member states as well as from non-governmental organizations.
Social and human development
SADC works to raise the level of education, especially among teachers, technicians, craftsmen, agronomists, supervisors and public administration employees. Programs for coordinating education and degree systems in the Member States are also available. Special efforts are made to educate girls and women. SADC’s work against drugs and drug smuggling is funded in part by the EU.
A special committee, which spans several different subject areas, deals with the problems surrounding the HIV / AIDS epidemic in the region. Among other things, SADC works to ensure that cheap antiretroviral drugs against AIDS can be distributed to those infected. In July 2003, a special summit on HIV / AIDS was held in Lesotho, to which the World Bank, Unaids and the WHO were invited. A declaration was adopted which pointed to a number of areas that must be prioritized: information on how to avoid the disease, greater opportunities for HIV testing and attempts to make the public more active in the fight against the disease. There are also special programs for tuberculosis and malaria.
Other areas that SADC works with are labor market issues, social security and culture.
The external cooperation
SADC’s operations are largely dependent on development assistance. One of the main contributors is Sweden, which has long provided regional assistance to southern Africa to promote cooperation between the countries there.
SADC has set up joint working groups with the EU to promote trade contacts as well as political, economic and regional cooperation. Cooperation agreements have also been concluded with the USA to try to get American investments to the region as well as support for various environmental measures.
Food, agriculture and natural resources
Agriculture accounts for a third of southern Africa’s GDP and employs about 80 percent of the workforce. The main goal of the Directorate for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources is to coordinate and develop the countries’ agriculture and extraction of natural resources so that the operation takes place in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.
It is important to ensure the availability of food, including through various research projects. To avoid food shortages, SADC has developed a system that means that information on the availability of food must be exchanged regularly in order to create a picture of the situation in the entire region. A regional food reserve is being built up. SADC has provided guidelines to Member States on the use of genetically modified crops. The development of the fishing industry has a high priority, as fish is seen as an important source of protein for the inhabitants.
In 1995, the energy ministers of SADC decided to set up a joint body to increase the supply of electricity in the region. Projects also exist to combat desertification and environmental degradation.