Southern Africa: SADC Considers Applications By Comoros, Burundi to Become Members

Pretoria — One of the key issues to be discussed by the 37th SADC Summit to open 19 August in Pretoria, South Africa is to expand the membership of the regional organization.

This follows requests by the Union of Comoros and the Republic of Burundi to join the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

SADC - currently made up of 15 Member States - is one of the most stable and attractive regional economic communities in Africa.

Speaking ahead of the 37th SADC Summit, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said regional leaders will deliberate on whether the Comoros and Burundi should become the newest members of SADC.

"On the application by the Union of Comoros and the Republic of Burundi for membership to SADC, the SADC Council will receive the report from the meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation in respect of the applications from the two countries," Nkoana-Mashabane told journalists.

The outcome of the SADC Council deliberations will the forwarded to the SADC Heads of States and Government Summit for final approval.

The two countries - Comoros and Burundi - have for the past years expressed interest in joining SADC and their admission would bring the admission of SADC to 17 members.

SADC presently comprises Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe

But, who exactly are these two members that want to join SADC?

The Union of the Comoros is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, off the eastern coast of Africa between north-eastern Mozambique and north-western Madagascar.

At 1,660 square kilometres in size, excluding the contested island of Mayotte, the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation by area, has a population of about 798,000 people.

As a nation formed at a crossroads of different civilisations, the archipelago is noted for its diverse culture and history.

The country consists of three major islands and numerous smaller islands, all in the volcanic Comoros archipelago.

It became part of the French colonial empire in the 19th century before becoming independent in 1975.

Burundi is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the DRC to the west.

It is also part of the East African Community and its south-western border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.

Burundi was an independent kingdom until the beginning of the 20th century when Germany colonised the region.

After World War I in Europe and the defeat of Germany, it ceded the territory to Belgium. Germany, and then Belgium, ruled Burundi and Rwanda as a colony known as Ruanda-Urundi.

Burundi gained independence on 1 July 1962 under the leadership of Mwami Mwambutsa IV.

SADC - formerly the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) -was established on 1 April 1980 in Lusaka, Zambia when nine independent states signed a Declaration titled "Southern Africa: Towards Economic Liberation," whose main objectives were to reduce dependence, particularly on apartheid South Africa, as well as secure international understanding and support.

Initially made up of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, SADC has grown to 15 members.

Close cooperation among the member states has seen the region achieve a number of milestones aimed at advancing political freedom into broader socio-economic independence that ensures improved living standards for its people.

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