This is a year-long research and dialogue project that is funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA). The project seeks to unpack the state of institutional effectiveness in the SADC, with particular reference to SADC National Committees (SNCs) and their linkage to the SADC Secretariat, and explore ways in which South Africa could best show its regional leadership by championing the process of strengthening the capacity of these institutions to deliver on SADC’s goals.
As part of institutional reforms within SADC between 1998 and 2004, SNCs were designed to provide a platform for promoting regional interests or cross-border imperatives in national planning and programming, while also serving as vehicles for transmitting national agendas for harmonisation at the SADC Secretariat. In an ideal situation, SNCs would help improve not just the implementation of regional programmes, but also deepen a regional vision, shared values, functional development cooperation and stability. Almost a decade later, SNCs in most SADC member states are largely ineffective.
Although SADC has always received significant emphasis within post-apartheid South Africa’s foreign policy, this has not always translated into effective regional leadership through the strengthening of regional institutional frameworks for deeper cooperation and integration. Nevertheless, the project departs from the premise that South Africa has an opportunity of exercising regional leadership effectively without behaving like a hegemon by promoting stronger and more effective institutionalisation of the SADC agenda and by strengthening the Secretariat and National Committees. Therefore, the project will systematically consider ways in which South Africa could enhance its regional power or leadership role by focusing on championing the strengthening of the capacities, effectiveness and linkages in SADC’s institutional make-up, with a specific focus on SNCs and their linkage to the Secretariat.