Academy of Strategic Management Journal (Print ISSN: 1544-1458; Online ISSN: 1939-6104)

Research Article: 2019 Vol: 18 Issue: 3

The Nuts and Bolts of Managing Peace and Security in Southern Africa: A Strategic Review

Daniel Chigudu, University of South Africa



Notwithstanding the region’s relative stability, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is predisposed to numerous threats and accused of being a toothless bulldog. These threats have a potential effect on regional stability and security that will negatively affect the development of democracy which is still at its infancy. The threats are located in high levels of exclusion, inequality and political participation which is fairly weak. Manipulated electoral processes also compound peace and security threats by creating tense political environments. This is coupled with the notion that it is inconceivable to have socioeconomic development in the absence of peace and stability. Informed by the constructivist research paradigm, this study is directed at interrogating the nuts and bolts of managing peace and security mechanisms in the region and provide a strategic focus to help SADC states realise their full potential. The study is informed by the hermeneutic phenomenology together with the strategy theory in security and international relations studies using secondary data. The paper argues that, to address these concerns, it is the development of national and regional capacity for joint action and integration that will yield sustainable measures for mitigating instability and political insecurity. That regional security collaboration involves the requisite infrastructures which should be guaranteed by political obligations. Yet, the SADC Secretariat appears to be feeble to foster effective policy implementation. It is recommended that a common effective security framework be developed which improves collaborative international partnerships and a common foreign policy framework which enhances a collective engagement. With the proviso that, national sovereignty does not prevail over the interests of the region. Otherwise, the success of SADC’s conflict management and resolution mechanisms will be forever in limbo.


Strategy Theory, Southern Africa, Peace and Security, SADC, Threats


Nathan (2012) asserts authoritatively that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a failure in achieving one of its main objectives of ensuring regional peace and security. This assertion is a result of an examination of an unrelenting analysis portending a bleak future for the regional economic community with respect to its objectives. Nathan’s observations cannot be easily brushed aside because of the author’s services rendered to SADC in an advisory role for some time. The analysis provides some insights for attentive reading replete with examples. According to Nathan (2012), the SADC suffers from a deficit of trust and a dearth of total commitment to common values making it an absolute ‘security community’. The paucity of common values is evident in the contrasting domestic characteristics shown by SADC member states. The disparate in national characteristics are neatly documented in the Freedom House and World Justice Project rankings of SADC countries in terms of democratic aspects and the degree of adherence to the rule of law (WJP, 2018; FH, 2018). The variations in these characteristics as portrayed by SADC countries reveal the weak foundation upon which the regional security architecture is built upon. The theoretical foundation of arguments presented by Nathan (2012) is located in the ideas of ‘security communities’ propounded by Deutsch (1957).

Nathan (2012) observes that, the first problem associated with the absence of trust and common values resident in SADC member states is prioritising government solidarity. Perhaps this explains the origins of SADC more as the reincarnation of the defunct Front Line States, an institution that was preoccupied with security and trade responses to South Africa’s apartheid regime at that time. Viewed from that lens, SADC has the residual influence of the ideas from the Front Line States and a historical debt lingering in the collective political spirit. Second, the dearth of common values compounds the failure by SADC, owing to the reluctance by member states to capitulate sovereignty to any supra-national body (Nathan, 2012). Even with the tenuous actual sovereignty grip and having full de jure sovereignty acquired more recently after independence, SADC states remain hesitant to transfer sovereignty to some other organisations. They seem to be sceptical, apprehensive and feel threatened (Franke, 2008). Therefore, being held up in such a paradigm it is injurious to the objectives of a security community which needs subservience from those countries. The fixation to national sovereignty results in primacy given to the security of a regime (Fabricius, 2013). As a consequence, Nathan (2012) laments that the former liberation movements, now ruling parties in purportedly democratic states are conflicted entities. They are preoccupied only with regime security to the detriment of one of SADC grouping’s objectives- human security (Curry, 2013; Melber, 2011).

According to Kotia (2015) and Ndaguba (2018a) defence security in social sciences comes in many forms including, economic security (freedom to develop a national economy) military security (deterrence of military aggression); environmental security (dealing with environmental issues threatening national security); political security (addressing threats to sovereignty and social order); security of natural resources and energy (such as water, minerals, energy and land); and human security (poverty, welfare and social grants). Although all these are important, it is the military security which guarantees other security elements because several studies have underscored the need for peace and stability as a prelude to human and economic development (Ndaguba, 2018b; Ndaguba, 2016; Weihrich, 1982; Nato, 2001; Gaddis, 1982; Chellah, 2014; Homan, 2006).The issues highlighted above indicate that, it is compelling to have the Southern African Development Standby force (SADCSF) which is sustainable and effective for the regional concerns. Conversely, the SADCSF depends to a large extent on regional foreign peacekeeping activities sponsored by independent member states such as the South African Defence Force (Vhumbunu, 2015; Ndaguba, 2018b). This is exacerbated by inadequate SADCSF funding models to sustain its operations hence the regional body is seen as a toothless bulldog (Hull & Derblom, 2009). This study navigates the nuts and bolts of managing the peace and security issues by SADC predicated on the funding constraints among other challenges so that a strategic contingent plan can be put forward (Allison, 2013).


The membership of SADC is underpinned by economic development, a shared liberation struggle legacy, political systems and geographical location. The former Frontline States’ philosophy born out of the need to overturn apartheid in South Africa reverberates in the agenda of peace and security across the regional community to this day (Desmidt, 2017). This liberation struggle solidarity manifests in SADC as one of ‘brotherhood’ as described by Lins de Albuquerque & Hull-Wiklund (2015). It remains more muddled than clear if those ties are still relevant to the present peace and security issues, economic development and trade. While the ties could have worked to help decolonisation, a new strategy may be needed in the post-colonial era. A SADC mutating from the Frontline States (FLS) pursuing the same agenda of peace and security requires a paradigm shift informed by other successful regional economic communities in the world. Desmidt (2017) argues that, SADC in the mould of the FLS endures levels of casualness with only ad-hoc responses to peace and security threats greatly influenced by objectives of national politics.

Desmidt (2017) and Motsamai (2014) contend that such levels of informality on peace and security are frequently motivated by a small number of member states, particularly, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana. South Africa as a powerhouse and ‘big brother’ in the region came to the fore during the crisis and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including Lesotho and Zimbabwe in the past two decades. Zimbabwe and Botswana have also influenced SADC’s agenda on peace and security to some extent (Desmidt, 2017). Although SADC’s implementation mechanism has been expanded in the past decades with the drafting of several protocols and guidelines on regional security, governance and democracy, compliance remains a sticking issue (Desmidt, 2017). While some of the drafted values have since been enshrined in the 1992 SADC Treaty, adherence is outdone by the non-interference and state sovereignty policy whose implementation is very stringent (Adolfo, 2009; Desmidt, 2017). This is further reinforced by SADC’s consensual decision-making on peace and security through institutions, specifically the SADC summit and the SADC Organ on Peace and Security (Bartsch, 2015; Hull & Derblon, 2009). Additionally, the values projected in the regional documents are in actuality not shared by all member states. This divergence together with the principle of national sovereignty has hampered the development of a somewhat effective security mechanism (Nathan, 2012).

Research Gap

The compelling case for this study (gap analysis) was that several studies have been made focussing on the strengths and challenges of the SADC’s peace and security mechanism without making a strategic review (Adolfo, 2009; Bartch, 2015; Cawthra, 2010; Vhumbunu, 2015; Hull & Derblom, 2009; Lins de Albuquerque & Hull-Wiklund, 2015; Nathan, 2012; Ndaguba, 2018a: 2018b). This created a research gap. While Nathan (2012) sought to evaluate how SADC’s peace and security performance could be evaluated, the study mirrors strengths and weaknesses without providing a strategic focus. As opposed to SADC challenges and prospects, this study sought to unveil SADC’s political traction while exploring strategic mechanisms to effectively ensure security in Southern Africa. In doing so, the study was informed by the constructivist perspective, strategy theories and best practices. The contribution was therefore to plug this research gap. The study was guided by the following research questions: What strategy could SADC take to effectively manage peace and security in the region? How best could SADC manage the former liberation movements so that there would be no undue influence over its peace and security mandate?

Theoretical Framework

States often feel the drive for combined efforts when faced with security threat perceptions and the need to reinforce their security (Ulusoy, 2003). This is what collective security entails. The concept of collective security has been widely debated in the context of international relations theory (Krause, 1998; Ulusoy, 2003). Perhaps it explains why Garnett (1996) argues that security, whether defined narrowly or widely, is a scarce commodity. According to Adler & Barnett (1998) Deutsch described the security community as a cluster of countries integrated to the extent where there is real assurance that the members of that community will not fight each other physically, but will settle their disputes in some other way. By this, it means those states within a security community should enjoy a stable order and tranquillity. The two types of security communities postulated by Deutsch are the pluralistic and the amalgamated. Even though both have reliable prospects of peaceful change, the former subsists when states keep their sovereignty, whereas in the latter, states formally unify. SADC resembles a pluralistic security community because each state retains its sovereignty. Ulusoy (2003) concludes that, a security community is constituted by the shared reaction as a result of answers to the questions of who is the other. And who am I? Therefore, it is the collective identity, which breeds a security community.

Adler & Barnett (1998) believe that, constructivists assert how the physical world changes, shapes and affects human interface. In view of this, it can be argued that constructivism exceptionally helps to understand world politics and theories (Ulusoy, 2003; Hopf, 1998). Actually, constructivism stands as a part of critical theory although with its own peculiarities making it a distinctive approach in international relations theory. What is noteworthy is that, the world is socially constructed for both critical theorists and constructivists. Ulusoy (2003) contends that constructivism studies the origins and matters of state interests placing emphasis on international politics. The constructivist approach accepts that security threats are constructed out of several factors like culture, ideologies and history (Krause, 1998). This approach also interrogates how security can be constructed in terms of threat perceptions, not necessary in terms of the state’s perceptions of the threats. The how question helps understanding the object of security, nature of threats and the capabilities of transforming security problem.

In order for the SADCSF to effectively execute its mandate of ensuring peace and security, it must have a strategic focus predicated on the strategy theory. It is a theory located in the strategic management and strategic studies which are both interdisciplinary academic fields as argued by Furrer et al. (2008). Strategy theory focuses on the study of strategic development of institutions, conflict strategies and peace (Ndaguba, 2016), politics, international administration and international economics (Gaddis, 1982). It is suitable for understanding defence operations, diplomacy, regional security and intelligence (Weihrich, 1982).

According to Yarger (2006: 2008) the strategy theory is vital when it comes to decisionmaking. It is therefore instructive that a well-constructed strategy is a road map that guides legislators and policymakers in coming up with decisions for societal benefit (ToddZenger, 2015). A strategy theory ensures the search, improvement and safeguard of interests. Its emphasis is on an inclusive approach synchronising the means, methods and ends to achieve a goal (Yarger, 2006: 2008). For this to happen, Yarger argues that, the strategist should be cognisant of three impediments to global effective execution of strategies namely; universality, sustainability and equitability. A holistic and all-inclusive (universality) approach to a given situation should be done prior to any intervention. This means clearance with respect to the availability of financial resources, environmental issues, time factors, social issues, patterns of communication, cultural dynamics, political issues, material resources, human resources and all the necessary linchpins connecting strategic activities should be in place (Gane, 2007).

The whole strategy must be implemented as one, even though with different components that effectively function together keeping the momentum of the central strategy right from commencement. Sustainability is concerned with the capability of each sector to deliver present and forthcoming outputs ensuring a smooth flow of all resources deployed including personnel, equipment and finances (Gane, 2007). Equity is critical to strategy as it is to life. It speaks to social order and justice. Therefore, no strategic activity can be successfully accomplished without equity because all strategies are based on collective efforts. Products of confusion and misperception such as scepticism and fear are reduced while discrimination is repelled. If a strategy is to succeed, all costs must be fairly spread as planned lest the strategy may risk being compromised (Gane, 2007). In military studies, Yarger (2006) opines that every successful strategy requires the collective effort of competences in the formulation, articulation, execution and evaluation of the strategy.

Literature Review

Aeby (2018) contends that in Southern Africa, social cleavages, armed insurgencies and governance deficits due to state resources abuse and dictatorial rule all endanger peace and stability. This is compounded by the SADC’s institutional framework for peace and security which is demonstrating to be ineffectual as its leaders are disinclined to implement democratic principles (Aeby, 2018). Although in the previous two decades, most of SADC countries enjoyed relative peace and stability, the region is still confronted with challenges of governance crises, inadequate socio-economic development and an ill-prepared SADC to effectively manage such issues (Ngoma, 2005; TAP, 2008; Zacarias, 1999; van Nieuwkerk, 2012; Allison, 2013). Aeby (2018) says, in as much as the region continues to be caught up with isolated cases of armed conflicts with the lack of development posing regional stability risk in the long-term, it is the deficits in governance that currently threaten instability. In the recent past, this has resulted in some crises escalating in different SADC member states. While SADC has progressively instituted an infrastructure for peace and security in tandem with the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), the institution lacks political and material support. One of the reasons is that some member states are not willing to cede power and authority to these regionally established structures and to implement SADC principles (van Nieuwkerk, 2012; Aeby, 2018). In practice, the democratic principles couched in the peace and security policies seem to come second to the obligations and narratives of regime stability, solidarity and anti-imperialism (Aeby, 2018; Allison, 2013). This has rendered SADC unable to effectively respond to crises that are intrastate in nature. It remains to be seen if the persistent governance deficits and SADC’s uninspiring conflict management record will arrest developmental issues bedevilling Southern Africa in the long run.

Regional Isolated Cases of Armed Insurgencies

Southern Africa continues to be beleaguered by some isolated armed conflicts whose roots stem from the post-colonial and violent colonial past (Aeby, 2018). Unlike the Congo wars that have involved external belligerents, the present day regional conflicts appear to be more nationally instigated than international. Apart from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo wars waged by some armed groups, small armed insurgencies have flared up in Angola and Mozambique (Haysom, 2018; Aeby, 2018; Imenda, 2017; Busher, 2014). In 2012 the Renamo rebels in Mozambique took up arms and attacked government army, made routes impassable causing serious security and economic disruptions. However, the rebels had no capacity militarily to wage a civil war (Aeby, 2018; Haysom, 2018). The insurgency was largely a result of social grievances from the marginalised forces together with political ambitions harboured by the rebel leader. A truce was later reached, but fragile peace remains up until the social grievances of over centralisation, economic marginalisation and authoritarian governance are addressed (Haysom, 2018). In 2016 armed groups of insurgents launched attacks on government army in Angola’s oil-rich province of Cabinda disrupting the extractive economic activities (Imenda, 2017; Aeby, 2018).

Governance Crises

The most acute crises in the SADC states for the past 10 years have been ignited by governance issues (Chigudu, 2018; Aeby, 2018; IIAG, 2017). The issues include authoritarian rule, electoral impasse, and abuse of state power and lack of accountability by governments in a bid to cling on to power and authority. The DRC, Zimbabwe and Madagascar have experienced constitutional crises subsequently undermining their own democratic institutions. In 2017, the long-term governance crises that rocked Zimbabwe escalated into a soft military coup. Also, Madagascar seems to be having simmering tensions over some disputed presidential elections, while Zimbabwe had hotly contested elections in 2018. In the meantime, the recent plebiscite in the DRC is yet to completely re-establish constitutional order (Aeby, 2018). Next to South Africa, Swaziland (Eswatini) is still mired by an absolute monarchical government with notable governance deficits. Political instability continues to rock Lesotho characterised by excessive meddling in civilian politics by the military. Aeby (2018) observes that, in South Africa and Zambia, deficits in governance, electoral violence and political conflict are affecting the fairly consolidated democracy. All this could be attributed to liberation movements’ militaristic culture and commando style of governance by Southern African states (Gumede, 2017; Biney, 2008). Military and political elites closely associated with the armed struggle have since established a mentality of privileges and power entitlements (Gumede, 2017). This is evident in Zimbabwe’s ruling party which equates an electoral defeat to re-colonisation irrespective of bad governance and justifying a coup d’état as a restoration of a liberation struggle legacy (Aeby, 2018). This is similarly evident in Mozambique’s ruling party elites who throw spanners to opposition political activists including freedom of expression denial. The ruling part in Angola, a former liberation movement leaves very little leeway for tolerance in political competition expected in a democracy. Namibia and South Africa among others, even though being run by former liberation movements they show a semblance of democratic tendencies regionally. Aeby (2018) concludes that, while democracy does not stand as a prerequisite or guarantor for peace and stability, it is indeed the democratic deficit, lack of accountability and poor governance in SADC states which have become sources of intrastate crises. For Southern Africa, the most immediate peace and security threat is located in governance deficits (Jobbins, 2017; Sebudubudu, 2010; Chigudu, 2018; Aeby, 2018).

Deficits in Socio-economic Development

Africa’s extreme unequal societies can be seen in Southern Africa where huge social cleavages were created by the colonial systems of racial segregation. These social cleavages have continued into the post-colonial states. In view of this, it is expected that socio-economic discontent will affect human security representing a difficult challenge in the region to peace and stability. Sluggish growth rates have been an impediment to the creation of economic opportunities and investments in human capital while unemployment has steadily risen in the past decade (Aeby, 2018). In almost every SADC member state, vast swathes of the inhabitants are subsisting under the national poverty datum line aggravated by consecutive several years of drought. The extreme vagaries of weather conditions like the recent cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi have further exposed the already vulnerable societies to serious shortages of food. Yet this phenomenon is probably going to be more frequent as a result of the climate change. Aeby (2018) asserts that, 34.2% of Southern Africa’s population is aged below 25 but rapidly growing. This means there is an urgent need for improving educational and economic opportunities before the region experiences increased social unrest in the future. Social unrests in South Africa in the last 10 years have been triggered by extreme inequalities escalating into violence and xenophobic attacks. The inequalities in Angola compounded by the brazen ruling elite’s accumulation of wealth have caused protests to which government has reacted with repression. Likewise in 2016, Zimbabwe’s economic woes fuelled by corruption in government sparked protests. Mozambique has had its fair share of protests owing to economic grievances and marginalisation in the capital (FH, 2018; IIAG, 2017).

SADC’s Stunted Growth

SADC’s institutional vestiges of its predecessors gave birth to a structure which is bifurcated, bestowing authority to manage peace and security issues to both the SADC Organ and Summit. The Organ directorate and SADC’s skeletal Secretariat are not well resourced. Those institutions meant to protect civilian rights as provided in the SADC Treaty remain disempowered due to member states’ reluctance to surrender power and authority to these structures. As noted by Aeby (2018), the Parliamentary Forum has no power of veto whereas the SADC Tribunal was disbanded when it made an unpopular ruling. The peace and security’s most critical policy document’s lifespan was extended to 2020 as the revised Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ (Sipo II). Some portions of the document are out-of-date failing to set out solid and detailed strategies to achieve the intended objectives (Aeby, 2018). The implementation of Sipo II and the operationalization of its structures have been constrained by weak coordination and more so by member states unwilling to lend political and material support to the structures understood to be a creation of donors and the Secretariat.

It is however, commendable that SADC has adopted all the components of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) which includes a standby force that was deployed in Lesotho and DRC. But, some institutions critical for preventive diplomacy and mediation remain understaffed rendering them ineffective. Thus, while SADC has all the sub-regional components of the continental APSA in place (including a standby force, whose deployment readiness has been demonstrated in the DRC and Lesotho), most of the institutions-and especially those in the critical domain of mediation and preventive diplomacy-function poorly and are short-staffed (Nathan, 2012; Aeby, 2018).

A Dented Record of Conflict Management

The reaction by SADC to the military snooping in Lesotho’s civilian politics and government instability when it deployed troops was decisive. But then, it was incapable of effectively responding to President Kabila’s failure to expeditiously hold elections when they were due in the DRC creating both a constitutional and political crisis. SADC also failed to handle the intrastate crises in Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique. For 13 years, SADC made futile attempts to contain the crisis in Zimbabwe until the consummation of a unity government. Aeby (2018) concludes:

Though the SADC Chair stressed that neither the AU nor SADC would tolerate an unconstitutional change of government, the thin veneer of constitutionality that veiled Zimbabwe’s coup d’état was enough to ensure that SADC and the international community acquiesced to the military coup that compelled President Mugabe to resign and that consolidated the hold on power of those Zanu-PF military hardliners responsible for most of the human-rights abuses of the post-colonial era”.

Here, the SADC revealed its impotence by tolerating the de facto coup and the Zimbabwean securocrats to play ball by its inability to enforce democratic principles. By so doing, SADC set a very dangerous precedent, indicating that it will allow unconstitutional government changes in future and even tolerance of the military’s meddling in politics.

Research Methodology

The constructivist paradigm through a hermeneutic phenomenological research was the basis of this study. The paradigm assumes that, people are entangled in their realm of life replete with cultures, experiences, events and histories preceding any endeavour of explaining or even understanding it. Therefore, the idea behind hermeneutic phenomenological research is of providing meaning to what has basically been experienced or lived. In doing so, research tries to give a description to phenomena in ordinary life ahead of any theorisation, interpretation, explanation, or abstraction. This is done cognisant of the fact that, the description is not absolute. There, this methodology is applicable to any experience which any human being encounters (Adams et al., 2014).

Friesen et al. (2012) contend that hermeneutic phenomenology is evidently different from other qualitative research methods and phenomenological approaches. This is because it refutes the assertion of other phenomenological methods that the ideal essences of lived experiences or consciousness may be secluded from the researcher’s historical and cultural location (Friesen et al., 2012). It puts weight on interpretations as well as re-interpretations of a meaning, rebuts any mystical claims to meaning and even on those cast in stone research conclusions. Levinas (1987) says, it is not about seeking to understand the object, but its meaning. This study does not seek to understand the modus operandi of SADC as a regional economic entity or object; rather it seeks to understand its meaning of peace and security in Southern Africa. Heidegger (1962) says that our being in the world or ontology, presents us with a fundamentally hermeneutical situation. As he explains, it is this situation in which we are bound to interrogate ourselves about the nature of the situation (hermeneutic) itself. For his part, Heidegger (1962) succinctly puts it more abstractly:

Such an interpretation obliges us first to give a phenomenal characterization of the entity we have taken as our theme, and thus to bring it into the scope of our fore having (Vorhaben; plan/intention), with which all the subsequent steps of our analysis are to conform”.

This implies that in reviewing strategically the issues of peace and security in Southern Africa, there is an obligation to first give a phenomenal characterisation of SADC as an entity with which subsequent steps of peace and security analysis are to conform. Ricoeur (1991) a hermeneutician describes the connection between hermeneutics and phenomenology and says, Phenomenology remains the unsurpassable presupposition of hermeneutics and that phenomenology cannot constitute itself without a hermeneutical presupposition. This means, it is not possible to study experience and fail to inquire the meaning behind it, and that it is not possible to study meaning short of experiential grounding. The use of the hermeneutic phenomenological methodology in this study is motivated by its use of concrete illustrations, reflective and descriptive writing while taking the scholarly discourse out from the realms of theoretical generality (Levinas, 1987) and bringing it a little closer to the particularities of real practice (Friesen et al., 2012). The secondary data sources from which data was gathered for this study is understood to be closer to SADC’s real practices of peace and security currently obtaining in Southern Africa. A thematic data analysis and narrative analysis were employed for a profound strategic review.

Results and Discussion

The findings were discussed according to the themes developed during the research namely; peace and security governance; SADC decision making; SADC’s peace and security main institutions; conflicting interests in the Organ for Politics Defence and Security (OPDS); peace and security current reforms; peace and security funding.

Peace and Security Governance

The peace and security governance institutions are heavily swayed by the former FLS’s informal structures after the mutation of SADCC to SADC. This transformation and SADC establishment from a political coalition grew to include a broader regional integration agenda. This finding is corroborated by others and includes transport, trade, governance, infrastructure peace and security (Vanheukelom & Bertelsmann-Scott, 2016). In order to effectively manage peace and security without undue influence from the FLS informal structures, SADC community should engage permanent independent peace and security experts as a strategy. These experts should be recruited from outside SADC region so that their decisions are impartial preferably hired outside Africa.

SADC Decision Making

As opposed to being monopolised by the chairpersons of the Organ for Politics Defence and Security, the Summit or the Ministerial Committee responsible for the Organ, decisionmaking is consensus-based. However, if an impasse or deadlock is reached, the Treaty does not provide for a leeway to break it (Saurombe, 2012). Although SADC has a comparatively strong democracy and security protocols including on elections, its functions are based on the fundamentals of absolute sovereignty which member states are not ready to cede at all costs. This view has also been shared by Nathan (2016) who argues that self-determination takes precedence over regional efforts.

SADC’s Peace and Security Main Institutions

These are; the Secretariat, the Standing Committee of Officials, the Summit of Heads of States or Governments, and the Council of Ministers. The supreme policy making and supreme institution is the Summit of Heads of States and Governments which has a mandate to meet for two days once per year to deliberate on SADC policies and functions. The SADC Organ Troika is second in command comprising the sitting chairperson, its predecessor and successor. The positions last for a year on a rotational basis. The Troika is tasked with the implementation of SADC decisions and tasks emanating from the Summit (Hull & Derblom, 2009). Equivalent to the African Union Peace and Security Council or the United Nations Security Council is SADC’s Organ for Politics Defence and Security operating under the direction of SADC Summit and chaired by a person who is not part of the current Troika. The Organ manages conflicts which are interstate and intrastate by using diplomatic means, mediation, conciliation, negotiation and arbitration. When all these strategies have failed then force can applied.

The work of the Organ for Politics Defence and Security is coordinated by the Ministerial Committee. This is a committee made up of the Ministers of defence, foreign affairs, public security and state security drawn from each Member State. The Ministerial Committee meets in two forms under the auspices of the Inter-State Politics and Diplomacy Committee (ISPDC) and the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC). The ISDSC is made up of defence, state security and public security Ministers dealing with the very critical security matters like military cooperation, while the ISPDS is made up of foreign affairs Ministers dealing with lighter diplomatic issues like good governance and human rights as also observed by Hull & Derblom (2009) though expressed differently.

Conflicting Interests in the Organ for Politics Defence and Security (OPDS)

After years of disagreements and bickering over the Organ’s position and competing visions in SADC structures it was fully integrated in 2001. It has been suggested that bickering and disagreement among states was concerned with the risk of availing sensitive information to SADC donors (Lins de Albuquerque & Hull-Wiklund, 2015). Being funded heavily by donors, some of the member states canvassed for a partial divide between other SADC sectors and the political and security agenda for fear of possible influence by some donors against which some still hold grudges from the liberation struggle (Hull & Derblom, 2009; de Albuquerque & Hull- Wiklund, 2015). Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe at that time, contended that the Organ had to maintain the FLS informality giving room for the more informal and confidential consultations outside the SADC structures. Also, South Africa argued that the SADC Summit be the supreme policy making body to which the Organ would be subordinate to (Hull & Derblom, 2009).

The observation by Nathan (2004) is that the issue underlying the inability to forge a consensus over SADC’s governance peace and security structure was fundamentally due to the absence of common values and not personal differences. The opposing views were more intense between Zimbabwe and South Africa on the Organ partially due to the historic and dramatic changes in South Africa immediately after SADC was established. After attaining political independence in 1994, South Africa a powerhouse in the region became a SADC member grabbing the limelight from Mugabe’s regional leadership courting the international community (Nathan, 2016). The major two legal frameworks for peace and security are the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and the Mutual Defence Pact (MDP). However, the link between the MDP of 2003 and the Protocol of 2001 are more muddled than clear with the MDP not having been activated ever since its inception (S derbaum & Tavares, 2011). During the period of disagreement over the role of the Organ, some member states wished to have a mutual defence pact, especially Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola a camp which liked a militaristic approach (Nathan, 2004).

Peace and Security Current Reforms

SADC has long made an expansion of its governance agenda system and enhanced interventions in the governance of issues to do with peace and security. Apart from the SADC treaty provisions, the expansion includes the 2001 Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security, the revised 2010 Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO II) as well as the revised 2015 SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections originally established in 2004. In 2015, the SADC Panel of Elders and Mediation Reference Group (MRG) were established. According to ISS (2015) SADC contributed its resources immensely to the continental training exercises. This was done in order to test the readiness of the African Standby Force, together with the Amani II (Swahili which means peace in Africa) held late in 2015 at Lohatla, South Africa. With its logistics base located in Gaborane, Botswana, the SADC Standby force is viewed as one of the most mature component of the ASF (AU, 2015).

However, a cursory look at the achievements and efforts by SADC in preventing conflicts may portray a success image but not necessary the case. The Economist (2014) and Desmidt (2017) reveal that member states are amongst the largest military spenders in the continent. The countries include South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia. If SADC’s peace and security mechanisms were all that strong and dependable these countries could have not been classified as big military spenders in the region. In terms of effective implementation of peace and security mechanisms, Nathan (2004) had this say; SADC was largely ineffectual in [these] situations, distinguished less by its peace-making efforts than by its fractious internal quarrels. Nathan (2013) asserts that SADC’s peace and security factors should be viewed beyond the actual performance of the organisation rather than on its declarations and structures. For instance, the participation of Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa through the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) during the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) defeated the rebel movement (the March 23 Movement) popularly known as M23, yet SADC’s operations in the same country against other rebel groups like the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda which is a group of armed rebels operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (FDLR) were less successful (Fabricius, 2014). Earlier on, during the first and second Congo wars, SADC’s intervention was described as bipolar owing to the disagreements pitting SADC member states namely Zimbabwe and South Africa in the Organ (Ancas, 2011).

The regional supranational body has been blamed for its failure to have traction beyond Election Day processes by rubber-stamping heavily contested elections (Lins de Albuquerque & Hull-Wiklund, 2015). The SADC Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre (SADC-RPTC) established in Zimbabwe, has been roundly condemned for producing half-baked graduates with the institution seen as a white elephant (Daniel & Wiharta, 2008). Further, Motsamai (2014) has noted that:

Since its launch in 2010, the (Regional Early Warning Centre, REWC) has been veiled in secrecy, with speculation that it exists merely as intelligence based system to protect ruling regimes in the region”.

Others have concluded that SADC’s REWC has not been able to distinguish between security issues and governance deficits in its member states (Lins de Albuquerque & Hull- Wiklund, 2015).

Peace and Security Funding

Funding the SADC’s peace and security budget is largely from external sources, with 75% coming from donors in 2015 and 21% from SADC states (Motsamai, 2014). The major donor for peace and security is the United Nations. Plans are afoot by the UN to open a Regional Office meant to work specifically with the Organ in Gaborone and member states on conflict resolution and preventive diplomacy. A UN’s Department for Political Affairs (DPA) has since deployed a liaison officer to specifically implement the framework on elections, mediation and gender as developed in 2013 (UN, 2015).

Managerial Insight

The values guiding the reaction to crisis by SADC are frequently a subject of Summit negotiations, whose configuration is not homogenous. The supremacy of governments led by former liberation parties such as the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC) and Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), the dearth of democratic obligations from other states, and SADC’s restricted ability to implement its non-compliance measures against governments imply that state sovereignty in practice, takes precedency above democracy. As noted by Nathan (2016) the rhetoric about defending imperialism, which Zimbabwe and other states have taken advantage of, has prohibited the SADC institution from effectively protecting peace and security interest.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Since its inception in 1994 SADC has put in place an architecture for peace and security considered as mature enough to countenance regional peace and security challenges. The mechanisms in place under the political direction of the Organ and SADC Summit include the regional standby force, an early warning centre, a panel of the wise and a regional training centre. However, outside the institutional framework it is less straightforward if SADC has commendably tackled the regional peace and security challenges with some observers labelling it a toothless bulldog. Even though some observers submit that in the absence of SADC, violent conflicts could have been more pervasive in Southern Africa given the diverse political interests of SADC countries, the regional body’s interventions have not effectively dealt with violent and political crisis. The architecture of peace and security mirrors foundational and structural origins of SADC fraught with mistrust when it comes to hegemonic decision making together with stringent adherences to consensus. Accordingly, the power of veto against the supranational body’s interventions is very strong rendering SADC weak.

The supranational body’s peace and security interventions are driven more by powerful individual states or a coalition of influential states rather than adhering to the protocols, guidelines or the SADC Treaty. In such case, it is the regional hegemon which calls the shots while others follow. For instance, depending on its national interests South Africa is a SADC hegemon and can play a big brother role. South Africa has an unparalleled regional economic, diplomatic and military strength. As a result, despite isolated conflict situations, it has even gone beyond the SADC region influencing peace and security at the continental level, particularly the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Conflict (ACIRC). A coalition of liberation parties like South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana for instance, can make a dichotomy that undermines SADC’s effectiveness while serving their political interests (Aeby, 2018). The scope for SADC to enforce peace and security remains limited unless and until the interest of the major countries is in sync. For this to be achieved, a paradigm shift is needed in terms of a strategic approach. As informed by the strategy theory, it is recommended that, there is need to develop and establish a new strategy directed by a regional common foreign policy framework which enhances a collective engagement, spearheaded by the SADC summit and enforced by the peace and security architecture. Also, there must be a provision in the framework stating that, no national sovereignty takes precedence over the regional interests. Only then, can total peace and security be guaranteed in the bloc. However, in view of several interconnecting differences, the disagreements over SADC’s tenets and persistent hegemonic distrust, SADC is left with a small margin to manoeuvre its agenda for peace and security in the region, unless politically influential countries have vested interests in the mooted course of action. Although there is disagreement over the degree to which SADC has effectively intervened in matters of peace and security, there is agreement that intra-state and inter-state conflicts could have been more prevalent in Southern Africa without SADC (Nathan, 2013). In order to effectively manage peace and security without undue influence from the FLS informal structures, SADC community should engage permanent independent peace and security experts as a strategy. These experts should be drawn from outside Southern Africa and perhaps outside Africa so that they discharge their duties without bias and prejudice. It is suggested that further studies be done elsewhere where other regional economic communities especially outside Africa have been successful so that best practices can be borrowed by SADC.


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