democratising regional integration in Africa: Sadc national committees as platforms for participatory policy making and implementation

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This is a full research exploring the role of SADC National Committees in SADC governance. It was carried out in 2009 by the authors for the Centre for Policy Studies and was funded by the National …

This is a full research exploring the role of SADC National Committees in SADC governance. It was carried out in 2009 by the authors for the Centre for Policy Studies and was funded by the National Endowment for Democracy. For the full article go to

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  • Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference
  • Detailed table provided in report.
  • Limitations In South Africa contact was made with the SADC Desk and an interview was arranged with SA diplomat in Botswana. Although this afforded an insight into some operational aspects of SADC in relation to South Africa and some information related to SNCs it did not provide detailed information directly related to SNCs structures. The research team then dispatched letters to the Department of Foreign Affairs for more interviews and also made some phone calls, to line departments like the Department of Social Development. Telephonic conversations with the Social Development Department revealed some insights into the operation of SNCs in SA. Email replies from the department provided a clearer idea of what South Africa’s SNC environment is like. However, the needed details for research conclusions as it relates to the research questions were lacking. There was thus a sense of something rather than the details. In Botswana, official letters and telephone communication was used to fix interview appointments. Follow up letters and phone calls however, did not result in any appointments. Budgetary limitations required that field trips had to be arranged based on the number of secured interviews. However, the focus on Respondents: Interview with South African foreign Affairs official was highly limited. Inquiries at DFA and DSD reveal that SNCs are not operational although after the restructuring there were initial efforts towards this. For Botswana, the plan was to target interviews at SADC officials however, the phone calls and emails did not yield any results. There was an interview with the SADC CNGO and the BDP former women wing chairperson.
  • Isaksen, J. 2002. Restructuring SADC – Progress and problems. Report R 2002: 15 Chr. Michelsen Institute Development Studies and Human RightsMetaCom 2005. Support to consolidation of SADC National Committees (SNCs) and the operationalisation/implementation of RISDP: Capacity needs assessment report October 2004 – March 2005. Annex 1
  • Specified structure:Chairperson of SNC (CH) (Minister)National Steering Committee (NSC) Sub-committee (SC) Technical Committee (TC)Sectoral clusters: (TIFI, S&HD, I&S, FANR)Department of Social Development (meetings last 5 years ago) TIFI: Trade, Industry, Finance and Development; S&HD: Social and Human Development; I&S: Infrastrcuture and Services ; FANR: Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • SADC Structure and system: SADC is largely a multilateral institution with non-binding instrumentsThe effect of SADC restructuring The highly intergovernmental nature of regionalism in Africa, national soveriengty interests (weakness of the Secretairiat), overlapping memberships
  • Gender CBO members provided data for national decision making in Mozambique


  • 1. Aim of research: Investigate SADC National Committees as participatory platforms for SADC policy making:1. Find out extent of SNC functionality2. Find out extent of compliance with SNC participatory requirements as spelt out in treatySignificance: Very limited information on SNC performance available Previous reports focus on capacity issues Examines stakeholder participation as requirement for a functional SNC Point of departure of this study is in examining the SNCs’ role as participatory platforms for SADC policy process
  • 2. Conceptualisation of Key Terms SNCs: as defined within the confines of the SADC treaty 2001 Public Participation: encompassing in terms of mechanisms; consultative forums; stakeholder membership, limited to civil society; Civil Society: Inclusive of stakeholders stipulated in the SADC treaty provision for SNCs: NGOs, private sector, business, trade organisations Functionality: administrative and operational characteristics in terms of SADC framework provisions for SNCs SNCs as participatory platforms: the issue is examined from the wider question of SNC functionality
  • 3.  SADCC (1979) to SADC (1992) Treaty Amended 2001 SADC restructuring in 2001 From SADC Coordinating Units (SCU) to SNCs
  • 4. Stakeholder participationSpecified StateStructure Financing SNC Functionality Secretariat Meetings
  • 6. Purpose: Exploratory studyData gathering28 respondents from 5 countries in SADC Sample No Government officials 8 NGOs 18 Parliamentarians/Poli 4 ticians Total 30
  • 7. Research Instrument Semi structured questions Designed to test extent of public participation and the functional requirements of SNCsLimitations: Sampling and data gathering The scale of study (time and budget) Respondents: Accessing identified respondents and respondent bias.
  • 8.  Participation in African regionalism governance ( UNECA Charter for popular participation -1990) Framework for participatory governance in SADC (SADC Treaty; RSIDP) Significance of SADC ‘participatory’ national model. State of SNCs: (Metacomm report 2005; SADC review of operations report 2001, Isaksen, J 2002; and SADC capacity Development Framework 2008)
  • 9. Challenges of SNCs: The lack of qualified and experienced manpower The lack of material resources (offices, equipment, etc) The lack of clarity on the SNC linkages to SADC secretariat on budgetary provision for programmes and projects for implementation within RISDP context The lack of mechanism for integration of SNCs into government systems and procedures The lack of full comprehension of function of SNCs in SADC Lack of internalization and understanding of the roles of SNCs by stakeholders The lack of technical capacity for SNC sub-committees.
  • 10. Broader functional Specified Structure Secretariat Financing Meetings Public Participationissues ArrangementsMalawi CH(MIN of Foreign Focal point(located at Not funded Ad hoc Not significant Affairs), SC and TC(TIFI) SADC desk) dependent on government fundingZambia CH (Sec. to Cabinet); SC Focal point (Located at Not funded, dependent Ad hoc Not significant (TIFI) on governmentMozambique CH (Min of Foreign Member institutions Inadequate( dependent Plenary(yearly); SC Significant participation Affairs) carry the cost of on government monthly I&S: 4 Gov, 3 NGO, 3 Plenary (all Sub disseminating SNC CSO committees + deliberation s to TIFI: 6 Govt 3 NGO 3 stakeholders) members (Focal point) CSO Provincial SNCs FANR: 11 Govt, 11 NGO, (more than 40 institutions rep)South Africa “African Renaissance Located within the Government Once a month (Business through Committee” IRC Department NEDLAC/DTI) Civil Participation by all Society when needed departmentsPublic Participation Civil society SNC awareness Membership of SNCs Government SNC Meetings interaction with engagement with SADC civil societyMalawi SADC-PF ; 2 groups 1 (on paper) Minimal & restricted None confirmed to certain groupsZambia SADC consultative none none none None confirmed forumsMozambique SADC CNGO, SADC-PF 2 groups 1 I group 1 group confirmedBotswana SADC CNGOSouth Africa SADC CNGO; SADC-PF, 1 none Little information None confirmed other Regional NGO frameworks
  • 11.  Broader functional issuesSpecified Structure No uniform model Lacking complete organizational structural requirements Ad hoc meetingsSecretariat and coordination: Focal points not secretariats No coordination between committees and national secretariat Weak coordination between national secretariat and SADC Difficulty in integrating SNCs into government institutional and operational structure
  • 12.  Broader functional issues contdFinancial arrangements: Funding responsibility (at national level) Funding mechanisms (national budget) Availability of Funds (not prioritised/competing needs)Human Resources/Capacity Building:Capacity building responsibilitiesPoor staffing
  • 13.  Public ParticipationGauging civil society knowledge of and responsiveness to participation in SADC Avenues for participation: The SADC CNGO Independent Regional Civil Society Forums such as the Southern African Poverty Network The SADC Parliamentary Forum and National Parliaments Consultative Forums of various SADC Units such as the gender desk and HIV/AIDS desk SADC National Committees
  • 14. Awareness of the existence of SNCs in civil society groups 5 out of 18 NGOs interviewed had heard of SNCs and 2 out of the 18 NGOs interviewed belonged(Malawi (MEJN); Mozambique OTM) Lack of information from government Funding for awareness programmeMembership:Limited to government (Except in Mozambique (tendency for more involvement in finance and trade))
  • 15. Possible contributing factors: Reactive SNCs: the ad hoc and issue driven nature of SNC meetings Lack of funds to build awareness and organise Civil Society participation The relationship between Civil Society and government Lack of clear criteria and guidelines for membership
  • 16. Context:1. The SADC structure and system,2. the political dimensions of regional governance in Africa,3. the economic realities of regional integration in Africa4. global realitiesSNCs exist but are not functional in most countries(Mozambique only)SNCs were not designed to be focal pointsLack of clarity on the support role of SADC in terms of capacity building;Lack of clarity on the structure, operations and institutionalisation of SNCs in SADC (detailed guidelines needed)
  • 17. Political and institutional commitment from governments and SADC put in context of1. commitment of member states to national implementation since the SADC restructuring and centralisation process2. Competing multilateral agreementsOverall SADC system:1. Highly intergovernmental nature of regionalism in Africa2. Lack of understanding of SADC calendar and workingsFunding within the context of SADC:1. ICP partners (61%)2. SADC membership contributions3. Joint enterprises
  • 18.  PARTICIPATION1. Two levels and several entry points identified for participation in SADC: Regional •SADC CNGO •SADC Parliamentary Forum •Consultative meetings of SADC units •Independent Regional Civil Society Forums National •SADC National Committees •National Parliaments
  • 19. 1.1 Participation in SADC: fragmented, loosely organised and structured framework2. The role of Parliaments: contribution of regional parliaments through legislation aimed at harmonising and co- ordinating laws Parliaments or talk shops (supranational and intergovernmental power pull?) national parliaments/parliamentary committees activating SNCs through Acts of Parliament
  • 20. 3. Membership by civil society (understanding civil society) Diverse civil society Access- hegemonic control Government viewed with suspicion(threat element)4. SADC and government create the space for justifiable criteria for inclusion and exclusion when considering participation5. Given these findings: a case for SNCs as semi-autonomous?
  • 21.  Lessons: Mozambique: Integrating SNCs into the overall government agenda1. SNC participation in Mozambican Integrated Development planning2. SNC domestication: successfully contribute to national programs Suggestions:1. Developing a regional framework for public participation in SADC SADC full protocol on SNCS incorporating guidelines, work procedures etc Establish a SADC standard (with perhaps minimum requirements) for SNC structures
  • 22.  Member states develop guidelines for participation2. Explore alternative funding options3. Explore the question of semiautonomous SNCs4. Take advantage of regional parliamentary de facto powers through national parliaments.5.Build awareness and educate regional and national civil society focused groups on the structure, organization and operations of SADC6. NGOs can create their own spaces
  • 23. 1. SNCs represent an innovative effort in African regionalism to directly involve public in regional policy making2. A functional SNC must also fulfil its participatory requirements.3. SNCs have not been given priority in national and regional governance4. SNCs are seen to be government centric5. Complementarity between government and civil soceity is a prerequisite for enhanced integration and cooperation.6. Is there a future for SNCs?
  • 24. Views for future research: Gauge the effectiveness of SADC national coordination and implementation since SADC restructuring (scrapping of SCUs) Explore the possibilities of regional parliaments as entry points for participation in the continent (identify lessons from regional Parliamentary Assemblies ) Research and develop public (citizen and civil society) friendly manual on how SADC works(architecture of African regionalism, SADC structures, programmes projects, operations etc)
  • 25.  Full report can be seen on line at 2.pdf