The forward march of SADC?
This international update describes the achievements of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The organisation has reinvented itself to deal with changes in the region since the end of apartheid. Much of the cynicism about SADC stems from the mixed record in its previous life as the SADCC. Some of the scepticism about it seems well-founded. SADC members are more dependent upon South Africa than in the 1980s. Yet SADC has endured, and SADC-led co-operation in regional food security during the 1990s drought is counted as a success. The conversion from SADCC to SADC saw a formal treaty signed by member states incorporate a mechanism to achieve substantial protocols. However, the trade protocol is often hostage to vested interests and unresolved questions, the most important concerning South Africa’s relations with the EU and the future of SACU, as well as relations between SADC and COMESA. There are several major fractures between various members of SADC. The difference in perceptions and attitude is clear in the South African case, with conflict between the established diplomatic culture of SADC and South Africa, due to a degree of disregard in South Africa for established procedure. Difficulties are reinforced by the market-driven foreign policy of the new South Africa. Some SADC members feel threatened by South Africa’s economic weight and global status and the weakness of their own economies. Those who see South Africa as leader of regional renewal will be seen by her neighbours as rooted in a neo-colonial way of thinking.