Windhoek — The regional meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Non-Government Organisations wants the authority of the SADC Secretariat to be strengthened to make it more responsive and decisive in its actions.
The meeting also called for the re-enactment of the SADC Tribunal, saying there is urgent need for such a body in the region. The Executive Director of the SADC Council on Non-Government Organisations Boichoko Ditlhake expressed the sentiments during the just ended three-day meeting in Windhoek yesterday. In attendance were representatives of governments, academia, trade unions, members of parliaments and civil society organizations from the SADC region.
Discussions at the meeting centred around the values and principles underpinning regional integration in SADC; trade and the challenge of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs); the role of the informal economy in development, as well as infrastructure for the development of SADC. While noting progress in regional integration, Ditlhake said there are still a lot of challenges facing the free trade notion, such as unequal trade, intra-regional trade and other economic challenges. "There should be a rethinking of strategies. Strategies should be inward-looking for regional beneficiation," he said.
He also called for the strengthening of institutions to eradicate corruption, which is rife in the region. "Institutions such as the judiciary, legislative and executive roles and responsibilities must be separated and strengthened to advance democratic principles," said Ditlhake, adding that SADC states must put in place laws and policies to minimise the resource flight out of the region. On the authority of the SADC Secretariat, Ditlhake described the institution as "not responsive, weak and under-resourced". He said a legal instrument must be created to allow for authority and not just a secretariat.
Reviving the SADC Tribunal is urgently needed, he said, citing the current differences between SADC member states such as Malawi and Tanzania. The two countries have a long-running border dispute over Lake Malawi, which is believed to have rich oil and gas reserves.