How to make our children heirs of SADC: Part One


ON August 17 and 18 2014 Zimbabwe will be hosting the 34th Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) during which President Mugabe will be elevated as Chairman of the regional body.
There is no doubt a lot of stuff will be said and written in the media concerning this event.
What is this community and why should it matter to us as individuals?
SADC started off as an informal group of Southern African countries who formed the Front Line States (FLS) in the 1970s in order to coordinate their political, diplomatic and military activities against white minority rule in South Africa, Namibia and the then Rhodesia.
In April 1980 the FLS agreed to form the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) with a clear primary mandate to promote and coordinate the economic development of the independent states of Southern Africa while reducing their economic dependency on apartheid ruled South Africa.
The same group of countries agreed in 1992 to deepen their cooperation by transforming SADCC from being a conference driven entity into a fully fledged and permanent development community, SADC!
Today the organisation has a total membership of 15 countries dedicated to cooperate on economic, military, diplomatic and political levels as part of an agenda to integrate the whole Southern African region.
The activities of SADC itself are in turn part of a bigger agenda of the African Union (AU) to unite the whole African Continent!
In other words, the integration work of SADC is to be complemented by that of other regional bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and East African Community (EAC) etc.
Accordingly, SADC is just one of the many regional building blocks which are expected to integrate gradually into one continental entity known as the AU!
This ambitious and exciting vision-cum-project is Africa’s response to the stark choice it faces today: either we unite as one powerful entity or we remain 54 divided and succumb to another round of re-colonisation and re-enslavement by the US and Europe whose appetite for natural resources in Africa is increasing by the day!
The choice which we have made is to work hard in order to achieve the kind of African unity which would automatically transform Africa into an economic and military force big and powerful enough to protect and promote African interests in the global context.
SADC is about 9,7 million square kilometres in size. China is 9,5 million square kilometres.
But unlike China which hosts more than a 1,3 billion people, SADC is home to about 277 million people with the DRC, Tanzania, South Africa hosting relatively bigger populations while Botswana and Namibia remain relatively under populated.
The combined gross domestic product of all these SADC countries is estimated to be about US$576 billion.
Apart from the vast millions of square kilometres of rich lands which are suitable for agriculture, but which remain underutilised, SADC is also home to over a hundred types of minerals which lie below its soils and are very much coveted by the West!
This fact alone explains why fortune hunters describe most countries in SADC as constituting the ‘Persian Gulf of Minerals’-a designation deliberately meant to signify that the value of minerals found in SADC is comparable to that of the vast and untapped crude oil reserves found in the Persian Gulf!
Because SADC possesses this vast amount of natural resources it has inevitably become a strategic area of interest and contest between the East, whose economies are on the ascendancy, and the West, whose economies are battling to grow.
The bone of contention here are abundant minerals found in the SADC region; some of these minerals are-the much coveted diamonds of Namibia and Botswana, the gold, coal and platinum of Zimbabwe and South Africa, the copper, cobalt, manganese of Zambia and DRC, the coltan, niobium and tantalite of DRC, the vast offshore oil-fields of Angola, the huge reserves of nickel, gold and kaolin of Tanzania and the off shore natural gas fields of Mozambique and Tanzania whose volumes are huge enough to support the industry and domestic needs of the whole of Southern Africa and East Africa well over one and a half centuries!
And all these resources are just a tiny percentage of what SADC is actually endowed with — resources desperately needed by almost all industrialised countries of the North in order to keep their factories running!
The question that arises is: how is SADC going about generating a sense of ownership and stewardship over such stupendous natural resources?
And this question is particularly relevant to younger generations whose buy-in is critical to the future of SADC as it goes about implementing the integration agenda.
It is important that those young generations see the integration and development agenda of SADC as their own, and not as some kind of social club often frequented and patronised by heads of state and some of the elites of the Southern African region!
It is also critical that the same SADC agenda is part and parcel of the popular cultural imagination of all those youths of the region.
The issue here is the degree to which the countries of SADC are generating the kind of consciousness which will assist future generations to identify with and work for the realisation of the SADC vision of development, unity and strength.
The challenge is how to make these young generation natural successors to preceding generations whose own experiences in history demanded that there be SADC.


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