SADC plans to establish a museum to honour the men and women who nurtured the dream of a common future within the regional community.
The construction of a modern museum is part of a mechanism approved by the 40th Ordinary Summit of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) held in August 2020, to preserve and pay tribute to the legacy of Sadc Founders.
“The museum will be viewed as a very useful one-stop shop for archiving artefacts and documents about the Founders and their legacy,” according to a document published on the Sadc website.
The proposed museum will “ensure the permanent survival of the Sadc Founders’ historical record, Southern Africa liberation struggle and progress made in regional integration, as well as wide accessibility of such information to the public.”
It will collect and display the heritage of the Founders through a collection of books, artefacts, memorabilia, regalia, movies, music and art.
The museum will be constructed on an existing open space inside the premises of the Sadc Secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana.
Other activities proposed to honour the legacy of the Sadc Founders include the naming of venues and rooms at the Sadc Secretariat and satellite offices after some of the leaders who formed the regional organisation.
Similar initiatives are expected to take place in the 16 Sadc Member States where some public buildings such as government and parliament offices, airports, streets and universities would be named after the Sadc Founders.
The leaders of nine countries (Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) met in Lusaka, Zambia on 1 April 1980 to establish the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC) following a series of consultations by representatives of the then Frontline States to forge closer alliance.
The SADCC was transformed into Sadc at the historic 12th Summit in Windhoek, Namibia on 17 August 1992 that transformed the organisation from a coordination conference into a community. That date is now commemorated as Sadc Day.
This golden generation of selfless leaders included the founding Presidents of Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana, respectively Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda and Seretse Khama, who delayed the economic development of their countries to ensure that the rest of the region achieved political independence. They formed the core leadership of the Frontline States.
Driven by the strong desire of the Sadc Founders to see southern Africa achieving political emancipation and economic development, the region has made significant progress in advancing regional cooperation and integration.
One of the first notable achievements was the solidarity shown by the region as it championed the global campaign against the apartheid South Africa.
The culmination of this pressure led to the collapse of the official apartheid system, the independence of Namibia in 1990 and democratic elections in South Africa in 1994.
Thanks to the spirit of togetherness and common vision exhibited by the Sadc Founders more than four decades ago, the region has made other significant advances on the peace and security front.
These included the establishment of a regional force to intervene in situations where the peace and security situation in a member state or the region as a whole is under threat.
The Sadc Standby Force was launched in 2007 and became fully operational in 2017 as a multidisciplinary peacekeeping force made up of military, police and civilian components which can be deployed swiftly in response to a crisis, based on a standby arrangement.
The Sadc Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre (RPTC) based in Harare, Zimbabwe supports the work of the Sadc Standby Force by providing peacekeeping training for military, police and civilian components.
Established in 2003, the Sadc RPTC provides training for peace support missions in the region and for joint operations with other parts of Africa.
On the economic front, there has been significant progress in integrating the economies of member states.
Milestones include the historic launch of the Sadc Free Trade Area in 2008, which brought a phased programme of tariff reductions and resulted in more than 85 percent of intra-regional trade among member states attaining zero duty status.
This has been complemented by efforts to open borders to citizens of fellow member states in the spirit of easing the movement of goods and services, and facilitation of movement of persons within the region.
Another complementary activity was the decision to prioritise industrialisation in the regional development and integration agenda.
The decision to frontload industrialisation was taken in 2015 after reviewing previous efforts to increase intra-regional trade which were hampered by the little capacity in member states to produce goods for competitive trade within and outside the region.
This led to the adoption of the Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063, which recognises the private sector as a major player in Sadc industrialisation and regional integration.
One of the aspirations of the Sadc founders, as contained in the Lusaka Declaration adopted at the inaugural SADCC summit in Zambia in 1980, was the need for a coordinated approach to infrastructure development.
That objective has received significant attention culminating in the adoption of the Sadc Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan in 2012.
The master plan was informed by the understanding that infrastructure development and maintenance is a priority for accelerating regional economic integration and development.
This includes the concept of one-stop border posts as a key element of the transport and logistics infrastructure to reduce transaction costs for crossing borders.
Other milestones achieved since 1980 include cooperation in the areas of agriculture and food security as well as the promotion of gender equality in the region.
The story of these achievements in building a regional community is told in a new publication, 40 Years of Sadc: Enhancing Regional Co-operation and Integration, launched by Sadc in June 2021.
The publication is well documented and illustrated, produced for Sadc by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) in Zimbabwe whose premises are named in honour of its Founding Patron as Julius K Nyerere House. — sardc.net