Southern African Development Community

Southern African Development Community, SADC







Contact information


The Declaration and Treaty establishing the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has replaced the Co-ordination Conference was signed at the Summit of Heads of State Government on 17 July 1992, in Windhoek, Namibia.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is promising to create a 130 million-person southern African common market by 2000. This economic community is dedicated to the ideals of free trade, free movement of people, a single currency, democracy, and respect for human rights.

Member states are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


The Southern African Development Community (SADC), formerly known as the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), was born out of the positive experiences of closer cooperation among the governments and peoples of southern Africa.

In May 1979, the Foreign Ministers of the Frontline States met in Gabarone, Botswana, to discuss economic cooperation. At this time they aggred to convene an international conference in Arusha, Tanzania. This meeting led to the Arusha Conference in July 1979, which brought together government and international agency representatives from all over the world, to discuss cooperation in the southern part of Africa. As a result the nine majority-ruled countries of southern Africa -

  1. Angola
  2. Botswana
  3. Lesotho
  4. Malawi
  5. Mozambique
  6. Swaziland
  7. Tanzania
  8. Zambia
  9. Zimbabwe

declared during the Lusaka Summit at the 1st of April 1980 their commitment go pursue policies aimed at economic liberation and integrated development of our national economies.

In 1990 and 1994 Namibia and South Africa joined the Lusaka Declaration. The old SADCC has achieved a lot, but the greatest achievement has been the establishment of a firm foundation for regional integration in southern Africa.

By the late 1980s, it had become apparent to the SADCC policy makers, that the existing de facto international organisation needed a treaty or some legally binding instruments.

In 1989, the Summit of Heads of State or Government, meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, decided taht the SADCC should be formalised to give it an appropriate legal status taking into account the need to replace the Memorandum of Understanding with an Agreement, Charter or Treaty.

After four years of preparatory work and consultations, the Heads of State or Government signed a Declaration and Treaty in Windhoek 1992, establishing the Southern African Development Community (SADC).



The Treaty, establishing the Southern African Development Community, was signed in Windhoek in 1992. This Treaty is a legally binding and all-encompassing documents by which countries of the region shall coordinate, harmonise and rationalise their policies and strategies for sustainable development in all areas for human endeavour.

The Treaty commits member States to fundamental principles of:

- Sovereign equality of Member States

- Solidarity, peace and security

- Human rights, democracy and rule of law

- Equity, balance and mutual benefit

Member States are expected to demonstrate their commitment to act in accordance with these principles set out in Article 4 of the Treaty.

Decisions, policies and agreements entered into under the auspices of SADC are legally binding, and the Organisation will have the necessary legal instruments to enforce such decisions, policies and/or agreements.

The Treaty provides for protocols which will set out the principles and procedures under which Member States will conduct their cooperation in specific areas.

Sanctions may also be imposed against member States, which:

The sanctions shall be determined by the Summit on a case-by-case basis.


The Summit of Heads of State or Government

Council of Ministers

Sectoral Committees and Commissions

Standing Committee of Officials

National Contact Points

Sectoral Contact Points



Additional Institutions

a) The Summit of Heads of State or Government

This Summit consists of the Heads of State or Government of all member States and is the ultimate policy-making institution of the SADC. It is the supreme institution and responsible for the general direction and control of the functions of the SADC as well as the achievement of its objectives. Headed by a Chairman, at the moment President Nelson Mandela from South Africa, and a Vice-Chairman, at the moment Sir Ketumile Masire President of Botswana, who are elected for an agreed period, the Summit meets at least once a year. The Summit is furthermore responsible for the creation of Commissions, other institutions, committees and organisations as the need arises. The Executive Secretary and Deputy Executive Secretary are also appointed by the Summit.

b) Council of Ministers:

The Council consists of Ministers from each member State, usually those responsible for their country´s economic planning or finance. They are responsible for overseeing the functioning and development of SADC and ensuring that the policies are properly implemented. The Council advises the Summit on matters of overall policy and approves strategies and work programmes for the SADC. One of the major tasks of the Council is the definition of sectoral areas of cooperation and the allocation to member States of responsibility for coordinating sectoral activities. The Council also meets at least once a year to review progress and operations of its subordinate institutions.

c) Sectoral Committees and Commissions:

SADC has constituted Commissions and Sectoral Committees to guide and coordinate cooperation and integration policies and programmes in designated sectorial areas. The sectors are allocated to individual member States to coordinate and provide leadership. Sectoral activities are supervised by Sectoral Committees of Ministers.

Sectoral Commissions may be established as and when necessary, through a convention or other instruments approved by the Summit and ratified by the member States. Commissions are regional institutions, supported by all member States whereas Sector Coordinationg Units are part of national governments.

d) Standing Committee of Officials:

A Permanent Secretary or an official of equivalent rank of each member State makes the Standing Committee. Usually the official comes from a Ministry responsible for economic planning or finance. The Standing Committee of Officials is an technical advisory committee to the Council and meets also at least once a year. Members thereof have a dual responsibility as they are also National Contact Points.

e) National Contact Points:

National Contact Points are located in the Ministry responsible for all SADC matters. Their responsibility include regular consultation with and briefings of relevant government institutions, the enterprise community and media on matters relating to SADC.

f) Sectoral Contact Points:

All government Ministries with responsibilities for SADC sector(s) are Sectoral Contact Points and work closely with the respective Sector Coordinating Units in the preparation of sectoral policies and strategies, and formulation of project proposals. Sectoral Contact Points attend and participate in sectoral meetings, and assist Sector Coordinating Units in the monitoring of projects.

g) Secretariat:

The Secretariat is the principal executive institution of the SADC and is responsible for strategic planning and management of programmes of the SADC, the implementation of decisions of the Summit and the Council. Headed by the Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the Summit, it is also charged with the organisation and management of SADC meetings, the financial and general administration, as well as the representation and promotion of the SADC.

h) Tribunal:

A Tribunal shall be constituted to ensure adherance to and to ensure the proper interpretation of the provisions of this Treaty and subsidiary instruments and to adjudicate upon such disputes as may be referred to it. Decisions of this Tribunal shall be final and binding.

i) Additional Institutions:

Other institutions may be established when necessary.


SADC structure includes:

  1. an annual summit meeting
  2. a meeting of the Council of Ministers
  3. a number of specialised sectorial co-ordinating offices.

The supreme policy making organ of SADC is the summit held annually, and attended by Heads of State and Government and or their representatives.

A meeting of representatives from member countries at ministerial level is held at least twice a year. In addition special meetings are held to co-ordinate and develop regional policies in specific sectors such as Ministers of Tourism and Ministers of Trade and Industry.

The community also has the following sector co-ordinating offices, located in the country that has the expertise in the respective sectors.

Each of the sectors co-ordination offices have played a very meaningful role from their respective sectors in the recent time.


Contact Information

Executive Secretary
Energy Sector
Mining Sector
Industry and Trade Sector
Finance and Investment Sector
Transport and Communications Commission
Tourism Sector
Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Sector
Agriculture and Natural Resources Research and Training Sector
Livestock Production and Animal Disease Control Sector
Centre for Cooperation in Agricultural Research
Inland Fisheries, Forestry and Wildlife Sector
Marine Fisheries and Resources Sector
Environment and Land Management Sector
Culture and Information Sector
Employment and Labour Sector
Human Resources Development Sector


For more information, visit SADC's home page:

Globalization and Workers' Rights


International Labour Office
Bureau for Workers' Activities
CH-1211 Geneva 22
Fax: +41 22 799 6570
ACTRAV Homepage: