Tanzania’s engagement in Sadc: Past, present and the future

Tanzania’s engagement in Sadc: Past, present and the future

Tanzania, is expected not only to pursue regional integration as a trade policy instrument but also to galvanise the Sadc member states integration agenda as it assumes chairmanship, come August 2019.

Tanzania has been honored by member states of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to host a two-day summit of Heads of State and Government in Dar es Salaam on August 17-18, 2019.

During the summit, the President of Tanzania, Dr. John Magufuli, will also assume the chairman-ship of Sadc for a year to August 2020. His endorsement for the chairmanship was done in the last summit in accordance with the Sadc Treaty, which provides for the Vice Chairperson to take up the chairmanship on having successfully held the Vice Chairmanship in the previous year ending in August 2019.

Again, this is a demonstration of the Sadc states’ faith and confidence in President Magufuli’s leadership. Sadc was established through a treaty signed on August 17, 1992 by 11 founding members in which Tanzania was one of them. The establishment of Sadc consists of periods of highs and lows. Sadc passed through very painful moments as a Group of Frontline States for the liberation struggle in getting rid of apartheid and undemocratic rule in Southern Africa, followed by its re-engineering into a Southern African Development Coordination Conference (Sadcc), which was ultimately transformed into the present Sadc.

Some political analysts are of the view that possibly the Sadc that we know today would have been non-existent had Tanzania been absent in Sadc regional integration equation. The arguments in support of this theory are that the other Frontline States were constraint geographically; economically; and militarily to counter South Africa’s apartheid regime and aggression.

The only interventions that they could afford were clandestine operations and indeed limited to sabotage of soft targets and demonstrations. Thus, it was only Tanzania that could mount the liberation struggle openly through both human and material contributions such as hosting training camps for guerrilla warfare at Morogoro, Coast Region and Mtwara as well conduct diplomatic campaigns regionally and internationally.

Since its inception in 1992, the Sadc membership has grown from 11 to 16. The members are Angola, Botswana, Comoro, DR-Congo, eSwatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Leaving aside the historical perspective of Sadc and Tanzania’s role in its formation, this brief presents the benefits accruing from Tanzania’s membership in Sadc and the future prospects.

Future prospects of Tanzania in Sadc

The future prospects of Tanzania in Sadc is very bright because it endowed with abundant natural resources and huge arable land. These natural endowments imply that Tanzania could use regional integration as a trade policy instrument for accelerating its economic growth and socioeconomic trans-formation. It is in this context that Tanzania will continue to benefit from Sadc in the following areas:-

Export Expansion and Diversification:

Sadc is currently a trade-driven integration scheme as opposed to its political liberation past. Therefore, it goes without saying that Tanzania’s priority number one should be export expansion and diversification into the Sadc market. This can be achieved through agricultural-led industrialisation and minerals beneficiation. Recent state visit to Zimbabwe, among others, by President Magufuli, showed that Tanzania could be a granary for food security in the region.

Infrastructure Development:

Roads, railways and air connective for the Sadc region as well as power generation and transmission. Nonetheless, there is a need for undertaking intensive sensitization and awareness creation to the technocrats, the private sector and the general public on the Sadc business and investment opportunities. The Sadc opportunities ought to be known by the majority of Tanzanians and be mainstreamed into its development plans and strategies.

Regional integration is one of the most popular and tested models of economic development in the world. For example, it was through regional integration that the European Union, a region divided by conflicts and left in shambles after the Second World War, that trans-formed it into one of world’s big-gest economies.

The popularity of regional integration stems from the rationale that regional integration schemes enable members to open up their markets for intra-regional trade; to pool their resources and potential in implementing projects and programmes which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible for a single country to undertake and as a result realize accelerated growth and development. Thus, Tanzania, is expected not only to pursue regional integration as a trade policy instrument but also to galvanise the Sadc member states integration agenda as it assumes chairmanship, come August 2019.