The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is an inter-governmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Its goal is to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 16 southern African states.[1]

Member states

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SADC has 16 member states:[2]

Member states surface area and populations[3]
Country Area


Population Notes on Membership
 Angola 1 246 700 25 646 166
 Botswana 582 000 2 024 904
 Comoros[4][5] 2 235 575 660 Since 20 August 2017
 Democratic Republic of the Congo 2 344 858 78 736 153 Since 8 September 1997
 Lesotho 30 355 1 741 406
 Madagascar 587 295 12 238 914 membership reinstated on 30 January 2014 [6] after an imposed suspension in 2009
 Malawi 118 484 13 077 160
 Mauritius 1 969 1 237 000 since 28 August 1995
 Mozambique 801 590 20 252 223
 Namibia 824 268 2 104 900 since 21 March 1990 (since independence)
 Seychelles 456 90 945 also previously a member of SADC from 8 September 1997 until 1 July 2004 then joined again in 2008.
 South Africa 1 221 037 56 000 000 since 30 August 1994
 Swaziland 17 363 844 223
 Tanzania 947 303 44 928 923
 Zambia 752 612 13 046 508
 Zimbabwe 390 757 12 973 808

The Union of Comoros was admitted into SADC at the 37th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Pretoria, South Africa in 2017, bringing the total number of Member States to 16.[7] Additionally, Burundi has requested to join.[8]


The origins of SADC lie in the 1960s and 1970s, when the leaders of majority-ruled countries and national liberation movements coordinated their political, diplomatic and military struggles to bring an end to colonial and white-minority rule in southern Africa. The immediate forerunner of the political and security cooperation leg of today's SADC was the informal Frontline States (FLS) grouping. It was formed in 1980.

The Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) was the forerunner of the socio-economic cooperation leg of today's SADC. The adoption by nine majority-ruled southern African countries of the Lusaka declaration on 1 April 1980 paved the way for the formal establishment of SADCC in April 1980.

Membership of the FLS and SADCC sometimes differed.

SADCC was transformed into SADC on 17 August 1992, with the adoption by the founding members of SADCC and newly independent Namibia of the Windhoek declaration and treaty establishing SADC. The 1992 SADC provided for both socio-economic cooperation and political and security cooperation. In reality, the FLS was dissolved only in 1994, after South Africa's first democratic elections. Subsequent efforts to place political and security cooperation on a firm institutional footing under SADC's umbrella failed.

On 14 August 2001, the 1992 SADC treaty was amended. The amendment heralded the overhaul of the structures, policies and procedures of SADC, a process which is ongoing. One of the changes is that political and security cooperation is institutionalised in the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security (OPDS). One of the principal SADC bodies, it is subject to the oversight of the organisation's supreme body, the Summit, which comprises the heads of state or government.

The organisation holds its own multi-sport event in the form of the SADC Games, which was first held in 2004 in Maputo. Originally planned for an earlier date in Malawi and Lesotho, organisational issues led to abandonment of the plan and the SADC issuing a fine of $100,000 against Malawi.[9] The first event in 2004 in Maputo resulted in over 1000 youths under-20 from 10 countries taking part in a sports programme including athletics, football, netball, boxing and basketball.[10]


SADC has 27 legally binding protocols dealing with issues such as Defence, Development, Illicit Drug Trade, Free Trade and Movement of People.[11]

  • Protocol on Energy (1996) – Intended to promote harmonious development of national energy policies. These development strategies set out tangible objectives for SADC and its Member States for infrastructure development in energy and its subsectors of woodfuel, petroleum and natural gas, electricity, goal, renewable energy, and energy efficiency and conservation.[12]
  • Protocol on Gender and Development – Member states are urged to accelerate implementation efforts towards the achievements of concrete and transformative changes in the lives of women and girls in our region.H.E. President Mutharika also expressed concern on the escalating incidents of gender based violence in the region, especially those perpetrated against women and girls, and used this occasion to sign a commitment to end child marriages, as part of the AU campaign to end Child Marriages in Africa.[13]
  • Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation (2001) - Intended to foster regional security and defence cooperation, promote peace, political stability and conflict-management. The protocol initiated also an institutional reform of the SADC's Organ for Politics, Defence and Security (OPDS).[14]


The SADC Free Trade Area was established in August 2008, after the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Trade in 2000 laid the foundation for its formation.[15][16] Its original members were Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe,[17] with Malawi and Seychelles joining later. Of the 15 SADC member states, only Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo are not yet participating.[18] The SADC-Customs Union, scheduled to be established by 2010 according to SADC's Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), is unlikely to become reality in the near future. This is because the European Union's Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) with their inherent extra-regional freetrade regimes provided for several SADC members more benefits than deeper regional market integration within the framework of a SADC-Customs Union. Since these SADC countries formed four different groupings to negotiate and implement different Economic Partnership Agreements with European Union, the chance to establish a SADC-wide common external tariff as prerequsite for a regional customs union is missed.[19]

On Wednesday 22 October 2008, SADC joined with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the East African Community to form the African Free Trade Zone, including all members of each of the organizations. The leaders of the three trading blocs agreed to create a single free trade zone, the African Free Trade Zone, consisting of 26 countries with a GDP of an estimated $624bn (£382.9bn). It is hoped the African Free Trade Zone agreement would ease access to markets within the zone and end problems arising from the fact that several of the member countries belong to multiple groups.[20]

The African Free Trade Zone effective has been more than a hundred years in the making—a trade zone spanning the whole African continent from Cape to Cairo and envisioned by Cecil Rhodes and other British imperialists in the 1890s. The only difference is that the African Free Trade Zone is the creation of independent African Countries. The idea is a free trade zone spanning the whole continent from the Cape to Cairo (Cape Town in the Republic of South Africa to Cairo in Egypt).

In addition to eliminating duplicative membership and the problem member states also participating in other regional economic cooperation schemes and regional political and security cooperation schemes that may compete with or undermine each other, the African Free Trade Zone further aims to strengthen the bloc's bargaining power when negotiating international deals.

Challenges facing member countries

SADC countries face many social, development, economic, trade, education, health, diplomatic, defence, security and political challenges. Some of these challenges cannot be tackled effectively by individual members. Cattle diseases and organised-crime gangs know no boundaries. War in one country can suck in its neighbours and damage their economies. The sustainable development that trade could bring is threatened by the existence of different product standards and tariff regimes, weak customs infrastructure and bad roads. The socio-economic and political and security cooperation aims of SADC are equally wide-ranging, and intended to address the various common challenges.[21]

One significant challenge is that member states also participate in other regional economic cooperation schemes and regional political and security cooperation schemes that may compete with or undermine SADC's aims. For example, South Africa and Botswana both belong to the Southern Africa Customs Union, Zambia is a part of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and Tanzania is a member of the East African Community.

According to Human Rights Watch, "SADC has been criticized for its laxity on making human rights compliance within its member states a priority".[22]

Structure and decision-making procedures

The organisation has six principal bodies:

Except for the Tribunal (based in Windhoek, Namibia), SNCs and Secretariat, decision-making is by consensus.


SADC headquarters building in Gaborone, Botswana.


Country Chairperson Term
 Zambia Levy Mwanawasa 2007–2008
 South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe 2008–2009
 Democratic Republic of the Congo Joseph Kabila 2009–2010
 Namibia Hage Geingob 2010–2011
 Angola Jose Eduardo dos Santos 2011–2012
 Mozambique Filipe Nyusi 2012–2013
 Malawi Joyce Banda
Peter Mutharika
2013–31 May 2014
31 May–17 August 2014
 Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe 2014–2015
 Botswana Ian Khama 2015–2016
 Swaziland King Mswati III 2016-2017
 South Africa Jacob Zuma
Cyril Ramaphosa

Executive Secretaries

Country Name Term
 Namibia Kaire Mbuende 1994–2000
 Mauritius Prega Ramsamy 2000–2001 (Acting)
 Mozambique Tomaz Salomão 2005–2013
 Tanzania Stergomena Tax 2013–present

Comparison with other regional blocs

African Economic Community
blocs (REC)
Area (km²) Population GDP (PPP) ($US) Member
in millions per capita
AEC 29,910,442 853,520,010 2,053,706 2,406 54
ECOWAS 5,112,903 349,154,000 1,322,452 3,888 15
ECCAS 6,667,421 121,245,958 175,928 1,451 11
SADC 9,882,959 233,944,179 737,335 3,152 15
EAC 2,440,409 169,519,847 411,813 2,429 6
COMESA 12,873,957 406,102,471 735,599 1,811 20
IGAD 5,233,604 187,969,775 225,049 1,197 7
Area (km²) Population GDP (PPP) ($US) Member
in millions per capita
CEMAC 2 3,020,142 34,970,529 85,136 2,435 6
SACU 2,693,418 51,055,878 541,433 10,605 5
UEMOA 1 3,505,375 80,865,222 101,640 1,257 8
UMA 2 5,782,140 84,185,073 491,276 5,836 5
GAFTA 3 5,876,960 166,259,603 635,450 3,822 5
1 Economic bloc inside a pillar REC

2 Proposed for pillar REC, but objecting participation
3 Non-African members of GAFTA are excluded from figures

  smallest value among the blocs compared
  largest value among the blocs compared

During 2004. Source: CIA World Factbook 2005, IMF WEO Database

See also


  1. ^ "The Southern African unipolarity". Journal of Contemporary African Studies. Retrieved 2017-09-30. 
  2. ^ "MEMBER STATES". Southern African Development Community. Retrieved 2017-07-31. 
  3. ^ United Nations Statistics Division (PDF): 1–2 http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/dyb/dyb2012/Table03.pdf. Retrieved 27 January 2017.  Missing or empty title= (help)
  5. ^ "The Union of Comoros becomes the 16th SADC Member State". Southern African Development Community. 2017-08-20. Retrieved 2017-07-31. 
  6. ^ "SADC Lifts Madagascar Suspension". SADC. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Tore, Ozgur. "Comoros joins Southern African Development Community – SADC". ftnnews.com. FTN News. Retrieved 31 January 2018. 
  8. ^ Nakale, Albertina (2017-08-22). "Southern Africa: Comoros Admitted Into SADC". Retrieved 2017-08-31. 
  9. ^ Organisation of SADC Games to cost a million dollars. Panapress (2003-05-11). Retrieved on 2014-09-15.
  10. ^ Valy, Bayano (June 2004). The first Under-20 Zone Six SADC Games. SADC Today, Vol.7 No.2 June 2004. Retrieved on 2014-09-15.
  11. ^ Southern African Development Community :: SADC Protocols. Sadc.int. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  12. ^ "South African Development Community". www.sadc.int. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  13. ^ "Southern African Development Community". www.sadc.int. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Johannes,, Muntschick,. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU) : Regionalism and External Influence. Cham, Switzerland. pp. 187–228. ISBN 9783319453309. OCLC 1005921955. 
  15. ^ "Free Trade Area". Southern African Development Community. Retrieved 14 Mar 2014. 
  16. ^ "Southern African Development Community Protocol on Trade" (PDF). Southern African Development Community. 1996. Retrieved 14 Mar 2015. 
  17. ^ Mbola, Bathandwa (18 Aug 2008). "SADC launches free trade area". Southafrica.info - Brand South Africa portal website. Retrieved 14 Mar 2015. 
  18. ^ "Free Trade Area". Southern African Development Community. Retrieved 16 October 2017. 
  19. ^ Johannes,, Muntschick,. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU) : Regionalism and External Influence. Cham, Switzerland. pp. 153–186. ISBN 9783319453309. OCLC 1005921955. 
  20. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7684903.stm
  21. ^ Deep Integration
  22. ^ [1]

Further reading

  • Gabriël Oosthuizen, The Southern African Development Community: The organisation, its history, policies and prospects. Institute for Global Dialogue: Midrand, South Africa, 2006.
  • John McCormick, The European Union: Politics and Policies. Westview Press: Boulder, Colorado, 2004.
  • Muntschick, Johannes, The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU). Regionalism and External Influence. Palgrave Macmillan: Cham. 2017. ISBN 978-3-319-45330-9.
  • Ramsamy, Prega 2003 Global partnership for Africa. Presentation at the human rights conference on global partnerships for Africa’s development, Gaborone: SADC

External links