SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security

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Finance Standing Committee

06 June 2000
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

7 June 2000

Documents Distributed
Discussion Document on the Restructuring of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security (see Appendix 1)

Acting Chair: Mr. M Ramgobin

Mr O Mokou, SADC's Director of Political Affairsand Mr H Brammer, Deputy Director presented a briefing on developments with regard to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, the "foremost institution of SADC" according to Mr Brammer.

The body is presently undergoing "review" concerning its institutional functioning and is awaiting revised protocol to redefine its role. The current deficiencies and impasse were discussed. The protocol is awaiting President Robert Mugabe's acceptance and a response from Zimbabwe is expected at the upcoming Windhoek summit. The members voiced concern over the possible absence of a deadlock-breaking mechanism in the event that a chairing country is directly involved in national or regional conflict that involves human rights abuses. Zimbabwe is currently the Organ's chair in consultation with a troika (see Appendix for discussion document).

Dr B Geldenhuys (NNP) enquired about the current protocol regarding illegal firearm trafficking.

MrM Pheko (PAC) asked about the implications for eventual regional integration. He also enquired about who would pay the bill for Lesotho.

Ms F Hajaij (ANC) asked if any progress had been made with the early warning systems. She also asked about the economic/trade protocol.

Ms F Mahomed (ANC) asked about the detail regarding conflict prevention rather than conflict resolution and management. She also enquired when the treaties to be amended would come into effect. Lastly, she expressed concern about oversight of the chairperson and human rights abuses that may occur and the measures that were in place to deal with such dilemmas.

Dr P Mulder (FF) was curious as to how the organ would proceed with the absence of the Chairperson, currently Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe.

Prof M Mabeta (UDM) asked about protocol and deadlock mechanisms to make provision for a situation in which the Chair would be involved in conflict. This question was directed at assessing the competence of Troika regarding deadlock mechanisms.

Mr M Ramgobin enquired about the depth at which the new protocol discusses interstate conflict.

Departmental response
There is currently discussion regarding the firearm trafficking to be formulated and processed by early next year.

With regard to regional integration, there was a focus on the trade aspect, working towards an agreement similar to ECOWAS; such as travelling between signatory countries without visa.

There is no formal system in place for the early warning systems. However, it will be a priority at the next conference in August 2000.

The economic/trade protocol is continuing to search for common ground as far as the rules of the region were concerned. It had not yet reached a point of efficiency as the EU but in the future will strive to operate on a larger scale.

The department pointed out that the resolution with regard to conflict prevention had to be in accordance with the United Nations peacekeeping accord. Currently the focus was on stabilisation. It would be difficult to provide timeframes within which amendments to the SADC treaty would take effect since the summit has to consider and accept the proposals made thus far.

The new committee with a focus on policy and diplomacy would consider measures to be taken with possible human rights violations. This committee needs to reach a stage where it is better developed. There was a suggestion made by South Africa that there should be a permanent secretariat in place. This would provide a centre to which the Chair would be accountable. South Africa had already made this suggestion to the summit and would be discussed in further detail at the meeting in August 2000.

In response to Dr Mulder's question on Zimbabwe's absence at recent protocol summit, South Africa had submitted the protocol to Zimbabwe already and was expected to see Zimbabwe at the next meeting in Windhoek. The onus was on Zimbabwe.

The protocol discussed would suffice as a mechanism to address future conflict. Regional problems will take precedence to national problems. If a country felt threatened then it would have to express its concern at the summit. If Zimbabwe is perceived to be a threat for regional security, such a matter can be addressed.

The meeting was concluded.


1. Introduction
1.1 The SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security was established by an extraordinary SAIDC Summit held in Gaborone on 28 June 1996. President Mugabe was appointed as first Chair of the Organ. It was agreed that the Organ shall
· Operate at the Summit, Ministerial and technical levels and independently of the other SADC structures;
· The Chairpersonship of the Organ shall rotate on an annual and a Troika basis;
· The Inter-State Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC) shall be one of the institutions of the Organ; and
· The Organ may establish other structures as the need arises.
At the SADC Summit in Maseru in August 1996, the Organ was referred to as the "foremost institution of SADC".

1.2 In mid-1997 it became evident that fundamental differences in interpretation of the role, functions and structures of the Organ existed among Member States, particularly between South Africa and Zimbabwe. South Africa argued that the Organ was an institution of SADC that answered to SADC Summit. The meaning of the decision that the Organ "shall operate independently of other SADC structures" was that it was not to be regarded as a Sector of SADC, nor should it be serviced by the SADC Secretariat. Zimbabwe's position, on the other hand, was that the Organ was completely separate from SADC and operated under its own Summit.

1.3 Despite several attempts, the impasse could not be resolved. Eventually, at the SADC Summit held in Maputo on 17 August 1999, the Heads of State and Government decided to task Council to undertake a review of all SADC's institutions, including the Organ. In the interim, President Mugabe was tasked to continue as Chair of the Organ, in consultation with the outgoing, serving and incoming Chair of SADC. By implication, this was seen as an agreed position by SADC Heads of State arid Government that the Organ is an institution of SADC and, therefore, answerable to SADC Summit.

1.4 A consultative process was initiated by this Summit directive, which culminated in an extraordinary meeting of the ISDSC and SAIDC Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held in Ezulwini, Swaziland on 26-27 October 1999.

2. The Extraordinarv Meeting of the ISDSC and SADC Ministers of Foreign Affairs
2.1 After an extensive debate, the Ministers agreed to recommend the following decisions to Summit for consideration:

a. The Organ shall be a structure of SADC and shall report to the SADC Summit which comprises heads of state and government;
b. The Organ shall be chaired by a Head of State who shall operate in consultation with the outgoing and the incoming Chairperson of the Organ. This arrangement is referred to as the Troika. The Chairperson is elected on an annual basis;
c. Under the Organ there shall be a Committee of Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs, Defence, State Security (Intelligence) and Public Security (Police);
d. Below the Committee of Ministers there shall be the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC) and a Ministerial Committee on Politics and Diplomacy;
e. The country that chairs the Organ shall also chair the subsidiary structures of the Organ; and
f. As an interim arrangement, the country that chairs the Organ shall provide the secretariat for the Organ.

2.2 The meeting agreed that these proposals should be submitted to the SADC Summit in view of the latter's directive to review the structures of the Organ.

2.3 Regarding the process forward, the Ministers agreed that the Chair of the ISDSC should initiate and facilitate the formulation of a new draft Protocol on Political, Defence and Security Co-operation in the SADC Region. Officials from all Member States should assist with their inputs. This process had to be completed by the end of December 1999, when the product was to be submitted to the Chair of the ISDSC. He undertook to distribute it to all other Members for their comments and inputs.

2.4 On a Mutual Defence Pact, the Ministers agreed to study the Defence Agreement signed between Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and the DRC, as well as a draft Mutual Defence Pact submitted by Zambia, and consider whether/how these could be used as a basis to broaden them to develop a similar pact for SADC. The procedure and time frame for this process should correspond with those for the Protocol.

3. Present Status of the Organ Review
3.1 Three Member States, viz. Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia submitted their comments and recommendations on the draft Protocol to the ISDSC Chair, Swaziland. Swaziland subsequently called a meeting of a Working Group to compile a new draft Protocol, which should incorporate the inputs received. The Working Group, consisting of officials from Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, met at Piggs Peak, Swaziland on 11-12 February 2000 and prepared a second draft Protocol (Neither Zimbabwe nor Mozambique could send their officials to this meeting due to the flood disaster.) This new draft was circulated b~ all Member States for renewed consideration. In his covering letter, the Swaziland Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr AHN Shabangu, intimated that another extraordinary ministerial meeting would be called by Swaziland to finalise the recommendations on the Organ review.

3.2 The annual SADC Consultative Conference took place in Swaziland on
10-22 February 2000. Council took note of the review of SADC, including the Organ, and set up time scales for the review process in order to ensure that a full report will be submitted to Summit in August 2000. Part of the process forward, is a scheduled meeting between the two review committees (i.e. the SADC review committee and the SADC Organ review committee) in order to dovetail these two reports and amalgamate them. June 2000 was earmarked for such a meeting.

3.3 An extraordinary meeting of Principal Secretaries of the ISDSC was held in Swaziland on 8-10 March 2000. One of the agenda items was &The Organ on Politics, Defence and Security". The Chair of the ISDSC requested South Africa to provide clarification on the review of the Organ. South Africa provided an overview of the process and the decisions taken by the extraordinary Ministerial meeting of October 1999. South Africa also stated that it did not have a mandate either to reopen the debate on the Organ or to question decisions already made by a regional meeting of Ministers. After some discussion the matter was shelved.

3.4 The next extraordinary ministerial meeting of the ISDSC was held at Piggs Peak, Swaziland on 26 May 2000. The meeting was preceded by a meeting of senior officials on 25 May 2000.

3.5 The ministerial meeting was called by the Chair of the ISDSC, Swaziland. The purpose was to discuss the second draft of the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security, in terms of decisions taken in October 4, 1999 regarding the review of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

The South African delegation was led by Minister M Lekota, assisted by Deputy-Minister Pahad. They were advised by a group of officials from the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Defence, the SANDF, SASS and NICOC.

3.6 The Republics of Seychelles and Zimbabwe were not present at the meeting.

3.7 Much discussion centred on the definitions as well as those sections in the draft Protocol, which describe the structures of the Organ. Although the vast majority of the countries represented were in general agreement with the text and contents of the draft, there were attempts to take the meeting back to the earlier impasse caused by the question of the Summit. Although consensus had been reached at the October 1999 meeting of the ISDSC and SADC Ministers of Foreign Affairs, there were attempts to re-introduce the concept of two Summits, viz. the regular SADC Summit and a separate "Organ Summit". The meeting was taken back to the Gaborone 1996 position, as described in the Communique' of 28 June 1996, which reads:
"The Organ shall operate at the Summit level..."

3.8 South Africa's position was that our mandate had been derived from the Summit directive of 1999, which, by implication, overturned the Gaborone decisions of 1996 when it stated that the Organ had to be reviewed. This implies that Summit had acknowledged that the Organ was dysfunctional. It was most unfortunate that the Chair of the Organ, Zimbabwe, was not present. South Africa therefore proposed that the decisions of the meeting should be submitted to the Chair of the Organ, for him to submit the consensus decisions on the entire Organ review to Summit in August 2000. Hopefully, Zimbabwe would be brought on board by this process and would therefore be put in a position to accept co-ownership of the recommendations. This proposal was accepted by all delegates and resulted in complete consensus on the text of the draft Protocol.

3.9 The only substantive changes to the draft were the following:
· It was agreed to remove the recommendation for a permanent Secretariat for the Organ. In this context, the new proposed Article 9 of the draft Protocol merely reads:

"The country that holds the Chair of the Organ will provide the Secretanat."
· The entire Article 13 ("Financial Provisions") was deleted. The reason for this decision is that the Organ is an institution of SADC, which would therefore have the responsibility of providing any financial responsibilities that may arise.

3.10 The newest draft Protocol will now be submitted to the Chair of the Organ for submission to the forthcoming SADC Summit.

4. Conclusion
4.1 The review of the Organ is on track and significant progress has been made. It is important that the momentum be maintained so that SADC Heads of State and Government will be in a position to accept the recommendations by Council at the forthcoming Summit. If accepted, the proposals on the review and restructuring of the Organ (and of SADC in general) will have constitutional implications for SADC. The Treaty will have to be amended and several additions will have to be made to it. Once that process has been completed, implementation can occur.

4.2 One area of the Organ review, which appears to be lagging behind, is the development of a Mutual Defence Pact for SADC. This should not, however, be a cause for major concern. The draft Protocol on Politics Defence and Security addresses the whole question of intra- and interstate conflict adequately and provides guidelines on procedures to be followed in the event of conflict. A Mutual Defence Pact by definition focuses on external aggression. Because SADC does not have any natural enemies, external aggression does not constitute a majdr threat to peace and stability at this stage. Therefore, the focus at this stage will probably remain on the finalisation of the Protocol, which will provide the legal and political framework within which SADC will be able to address conflict resolution in Southern Africa in a uniform and consistent manner.


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