Southern Africa: SADC Summit, 9/22/97

Southern Africa: SADC Summit, 9/22/97

Southern Africa: SADC Summit

Date distributed (ymd): 970922

Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Southern Africa

Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +gender/women+ Summary Contents: This posting contains a report of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit held on 8 September in Malawi, and a separate report on the Gender Declaration adopted by the summit. SADC also admitted two new members, the Seychelles and the Democratic Republic of Congo, bringing the total of SADC members to 14 countries.

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SARDC (Southern African Research and Documentation Centre) Internet address: Tel: (263-4)738694/5/6 Fax:738693 Box 5690, Harare Zimbabwe


by Munetsi Madakufamba

September 19, 1997

The 17th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit held on 8 September in Blantyre, the commercial capital of Malawi, will go down in the history of the regional organisation for taking landmark decisions aimed at driving the community across new frontiers and forging its integration agenda.

This year's summit saw the signing of a historic Gender Declaration, demonstrating the organisation's commitment and willingness to break new ground. New protocols on mining, and education and training were signed by the heads of state and government.

To show commitment to creating a landmine free southern Africa, the summit also signed a declaration on the ban of anti-personnel landmines. The leaders also approved the establishment of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.

In a bid to expand the regional market, the summit unanimously decided to accept into the family of SADC nations two new members namely the Indian Ocean island of Seychelles and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country previously denied membership because of its undemocratic record under the leadership of the late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Although the DRC was not a member of SADC until the Blantyre summit, the country was already enjoying close links with the region in a number of areas including that of energy where a Power Pool Memorandum of Understanding was signed between SADC and the former government in 1995.

On the back of democratic reforms being implemented by President Laurent-Desire Kabila whose new government has ushered in a new era of political stability and economic reconstruction, the SADC Summit agreed that the DRC provided great potential for cooperation, especially in key sectors such as energy, water, tourism, transport and communications. The summit, which brought together for the first time chairmen of SADC, the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), was officially opened by South African President Nelson Mandela, who presided over the meeting for the first time since his election in Maseru, Lesotho, in August last year.

Mandela called for a review of the activities of the regional grouping. In this regard, he highlighted ongoing efforts to transform SADC's institutional structures and rationalise its policies and activities saying this was necessary to mould the organisation into a major player in continental and global affairs.

In a welcome address, Malawi President Bakili Muluzi said for the region to achieve desirable levels of productivity, which was the theme of last February's SADC consultive conference in the Namibian capital Windhoek, there was need to pay particular attention to the development of small to medium scale enterprises.

Muluzi recognised the critical role played by women in the development of the region particularly in rural communities and urged his fellow leaders to do everything possible in upgrading the status of women in the region.

"We need to desperately do something to promote gender equality," he told the summit.

"We shall all deeply regret having left our women behind. Their position as workers, their legal status, social position and their participation in development planning, decision-making and community participation can no longer be marginalised," declared Muluzi.

The heads of state signed the Gender Declaration following recommendations by the Council of Ministers at the Windhoek Consultative Conference where gender issues were pushed high on the SADC agenda.

The Gender Declaration seeks to ensure that gender equality be regarded as a fundamental human right and demands equal representation of women and men in decision-making structures at all levels as well as facilitating women's full access to, and control of productive resources.

Realising that high literacy and a well-trained labour force are vital for the region to achieve its full potential, the summit did not hesitate to sign the protocol on education and training.

The new protocol provides a policy framework that allows the region to move progressively towards equivalence, harmonisation and eventual standardisation of education and training systems. It also seeks to consolidate cooperation in the development and formulation of coherent education and training policies, and research and development as well as publishing and library services.

The Protocol on Mining, which was also signed, provides for the harmonisation of national and regional policies, strategies and programmes related to the development and exploitation of mineral resources in the region.

The summit urged those member states that have not ratified protocols so far signed to speed up the process. The process of ratifying signed protocols has been rather slow, raising concern on the implementation of the SADC Community Building Programme which centres around the involvement of stakeholders in the development of sectoral protocols. Sectoral protocols are intended to pave the way for, and provide the legal framework of the process of regional integration.

For instance, the Trade Protocol, which is regarded as the critical gateway to the region's integration agenda, has so far been ratified by Mauritius and Tanzania only following its signing in August last year by all members except Angola.

However, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe have all indicated that they will ratify the protocol by the end of this year, according to Dr Kaire Mbuende, SADC Executive Secretary.

South Africa, which is still preparing its list of products on which tariffs are to be reduced, is expected to submit the protocol to parliament for ratification by early next year.

"If the South African parliament ratifies the protocol at the beginning of next year, then we will be on course for a free trade area within the eight-year time-frame," hoped Mbuende in an interview with Reuters news agency at the summit.

The regional business community and foreign investors are eagerly awaiting the establishment of the SADC Free Trade Area as this would mean an expanded market and increased investment opportunities.

As regards post Lome relations between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and the European Union (EU), SADC member states reaffirmed their common position that they would want the cooperation maintained and improved without undermining it.

In response to a call made by the 4th International NGO Conference on Landmines: "Towards a Free Mine Southern Africa" which was held in Mozambique last February, the summit endorsed a declaration entitled "Towards a Southern Africa Free of Anti-personnel Landmines".

"The Declaration envisages a `landmine free' southern Africa and calls for the total ban on use, production, trade and stockpiling of anti-personnel landmines in the territories of SADC member countries," notes the summit communique.

Six SADC member states namely Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are still infested with anti-personnel landmines in certain areas. As a show of their commitment to creating a mine-free zone, all member states were called upon to support the signing of a Total Ban Treaty in Ottawa, Canada, in December this year.

On the issue of food security, the summit called upon the SADC Early Warning System and the SADC Food Security Unit to closely monitor prospects for the 1997/98 season. Southern Africa has been strongly warned of a possibility of a severe drought associated with the El Nino phenomenon.

In a bid to promote dialogue and popular participation at grassroots level, the summit endorsed the establishment of the SADC Parliamentary Forum as an autonomous institution. The Parliamentary Forum is made up of all national parliaments and is currently chaired by Namibian Speaker of Parliament, Moses Tjitendero.

The SADC heads of state and government could not however, reach a consensus on the future of the Organ on Politics, Defence, Peace and Security. They felt further discussions were needed and will meet again next month over the issue.

The 1998 SADC Summit will be hosted by Mauritius, the newest member before the DRC and Seychelles joined in Malawi taking to 14 the total number of member states. (SARDC)



by Caiphas Chimhete

Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders have signed a historic Declaration on Gender and Development for the "eradication of all gender inequalities" in the region.

At this year's summit in Malawi, the leaders committed themselves to placing gender firmly on the agenda of the SADC Programme of Action and Community Building Initiative to ensure equality of women and men in all spheres of life.

The declaration, signed by all the 12 SADC member countries, has been hailed a as major breakthrough towards gender equality and true democracy.

Secretary-General of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Gertrude Mongella from Tanzania, said in Malawi that "this gigantic step makes SADC the first in the Africa region, and one of the few institutions in the world, to recognise that gender equality is an inalienable right and pre-requisite for real development and true democracy."

"SADC has always distinguished itself among regional organisations for its ability to innovate and to lead rather than follow", she proudly added.

The Heads of State committed themselves to ensure equal representation of women and men in the decision-making of all member sates and SADC structures at all levels, and the achievement of at least 30 percent target of women in political and decision- making structures by the year 2005.

Among commitments made by Heads of State are:-

* Repealing and reforming all laws, amending constitutions and changing social practices which subject women to discrimination, and enacting empowering gender sensitive laws;

* Enhancing access to quality education by women and men, and removing gender stereotyping in the curriculum, career choices and professions;

* Taking urgent measures to prevent and deal with increasing levels of violence against women and children;

* Encouraging the mass media to disseminate information and materials in respect of human rights of women and children. The Declaration says while some SADC member states have made progress towards gender equality and mainstreaming, disparities between women and men still in the areas of legal rights, power sharing and decision making, access to and control over productive resources, education and health.

While most SADC countries' constitutions proclaim equality of men and women, traditions and practices continue to undermine the realisation of gender equality in the region.

Policies and programmes continue to overlook the central role women play in the economy and reinforce inequality in women's access to productive resources. For example in Zambia, 90 percent of the land available for agriculture falls under traditional land controlled by chiefs who follow patriarchal principles in its allocation. This often denies women access to land and other related resources although they make almost half of the country's population.

The leaders also launched a book entitled "Into the Future: Gender and SADC", which features recommendations endorsed by the SADC Council of Ministers last February in Namibia, on integrating gender considerations into the work of the regional body.

The book, written by several gender experts from all over the region, chronicles the state of women affairs in the region, achievements of gender initiatives outside formal SADC frameworks and the way forward.

In a forward to the book, SADC chairman and president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela said, "as leaders of SADC, we recognise that freedom cannot truly be achieved unless women attain equality, respect and dignity through their full participation in every aspect of our regional endeavour."

During the Malawi summit, Heads of State also endorsed the establishment of a policy framework for mainstreaming gender in all SADC activities, a Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for gender affairs, focal points dealing with gender in all sector co- ordinating units and a gender unit in the SADC Secretariat.

The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies, the Africa Platform for Action and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action which all aim to promote women promotion and advancement.

Several conferences, workshops and seminars have been held since Nairobi, and have culminated in the meeting of SADC Minister responsible for gender in Botswana in August who a made a set of recommendations approved by Heads of State at the summit.

Mongella hopes that the new institutional framework for gender in SADC will be allocated sufficient resources to make a meaningful difference because "all too often, similar institutions have been marginalised, under-resourced and used a dumping grounds for gender issues."

Into the Future says while the concept of equal pay for equal work has been agreed to in theory in SADC and legislation guarantees it, women remain scarce at higher levels of management and are concentrated in low-paying jobs. In Mauritius for instance, 98.7 percent of working women are found as typists, stenographers, and confidential secretaries while only 2.7 percent and 3.4 are magistrates and engineers respectively.

Mandela says though SADC has made outstanding achievements in the areas such as infrastructure development since inception in 1980, the region largely tend to gloss over the complex problems that make men and women, boys and girls unequal in the society. He said domestic violence and abuse of women and the girl-child have to be uprooted and purged from our social practise as a matter of urgency.

Gender activists are hopeful that the much-hailed declaration would not be theory but translated into practice to further the cause of women. Mongella says men and women in SADC managed to liberate themselves from colonialism and apartheid but "gender is indeed the last frontier we need to conquer." (SARDC)


From: Message-Id: <> Date: Mon, 22 Sep 1997 07:49:14 -0500 Subject: Southern Africa: SADC Summit

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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