A People’s SADC Myth or Reality

By Thomas Deve

Summary of Key note speech during SADC People’s Summit in Mozambique (August 2012)

In his Key note address, Thomas Deve delivered a brief but powerful keynote address to the audience gathered at the summit. He outlined the 2012 theme in the context of growing frustration from the citizens on their continued marginalization and exclusion from policymaking and ownership of the regions development agenda by policymakers. He outlined five points which the peoples of the regions would want their SADC to be. Deve highlighted that the envisaged SADC is one in which citizens are given meaningful role and recognition in the region’s decision making.

Deve highlighted the nature of the SADC the peoples of the region want as follows;

1. Respect for Human Rights – Deve stated that the SADC liberators of yesterday have become today’s oppressors. He called on the regional block to ensure that all countries fully respect democratic principles and the rule of law. He further called on the regional bloc to investigate human rights abuses in countries such as Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola and DRC. Deve urged the SADC leaders to reinstate the original mandate of the SADC Tribunal. He stated that the SADC tribunal is an important institution for the protection and promotion of human rights, “To promote good governance and development, the SADC should protect people’s rights to gather and to speak their minds”

2. Free Movement of Persons in the SADC Region – Deve noted that the SADC we want must ensure the free movement of persons in the region. He highlighted that the right to free movement of persons entails the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality. The right to free movement of persons include: the right to enter the territory of a Partner State without a visa; the right to move freely within the territory of a Partner State; the right to stay in the territory of a Partner State; the right to exit without restrictions; and the right to full protection by the laws of a Partner State. He called on the SADC leaders who have not ratified the SADC Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons in the region to do so as free movement is a right not a privilege. Deve stated that the Free Movement of persons will be the true measure of commitment of SADC, as collective, to developing an integrated region.

3. Corrupt Governments and Civil Servants ????? the presenter highlighted that SADC governments are corrupt; he mentioned that the SADC Protocol Against Corruption must be fully enforced. The protocol notes that the serious magnitude of corruption in the region, its destabilizing effects particularly that it undermines good governance. Deve called for the full enforcement of the Protocol as it provides both preventive and enforcement mechanisms and demonstrates some form of political will in the region to combat corruption.

4. Land Grabbing and Resources Extraction in the Region – Deve noted with concern that the ongoing rush to Southern Africa Land calls for the SADC Governments to act quickly. He expressed the mounting concerns about the increasing enclosure of land to promote largescale investments that seriously affect the fundamental rights of the local population and compromise efforts to achieve food sovereignty. He demanded an immediate moratorium on all large?scale agricultural investments such as the Pro?Savanna project in Mozambique.

He stressed that land grabs are prominent; SADC‘s resources are plundered by northern and southern elites. Multi?nationals from the South are making their mark in the region, operating in the same exploitative manner as their northern counterparts.

5. Lack of Consultation by SADC leaders. ? The presenter stated that the SADC leaders are involved in doggy deals without the consultation of the ordinary people. He stated that agreements such as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAS) have been signed without the clear knowledge of the people. He also stated that SADC leaders are involved in signing borrowing agreements with countries such as China. The borrowing bowls which have been extended mainly to the East, has increased the debt for the already overburdened region.

Deve concluded his presentation by stating that: “A discourse on what SADC should look like must be hinged on how to rebuild states that can restore and uphold rights of citizens and communities to control and access natural resources and basic services. There should be objective proposals on how these states can stop corporatization and privatization of basic services such as health, education, welfare, electricity, housing, water and sanitation, and natural resources such as land, water, forests. SADC states must ensure that multilateral trade agreements are consistent with international human rights commitments and treaty obligations and should under no circumstances enter into bilateral or multilateral trade and investment agreements that grant local and foreign investors rights (including the right to sue the state at international tribunals) without any matching obligations. Enacting and enforcing laws on peoples’ right to information coupled with further expansion of critical political spaces for developing and demonstrating alternatives that restore and uphold rights of citizens and communities is essential.”

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