Analysis: MUBANGA LUMPA
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu was among the heads of state and government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), who convened in Luanda, Angola, on Tuesday April 24, 2018 to attend the Double Troika Summit.The Troika system operates at the level of the SADC Summit and the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security. Thus the holding of two Troikas is referred to as the Double Troika.
The Troika System vests authority in this group to take quick decisions on behalf of SADC that are ordinarily taken at policy meetings scheduled at regular intervals, as well as providing policy direction to SADC institutions in between regular SADC summits.
The SADC summit is responsible for the overall policy direction and control of functions of member countries, ultimately making it the policy-making organ of SADC. It is made up of all SADC heads of states or government and is managed on a Troika system that comprises the current SADC summit chairperson, the incoming chairperson and the immediate past chairperson.
Currently, the SADC summit comprises South Africa as the chair of SADC; Namibia as the deputy; the Kingdom of Swaziland as the outgoing chair; Angola as the chair of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation; Zambia as the incoming chair of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, and Tanzania as the immediate past chair of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
According to a statement released by the SADC Secretariat ahead of the meeting in Luanda, the summit was also expected to receive reports on the political and security situation in the SADC region to enable the regional leaders to appreciate the progress made in the implementation of SADC decisions in the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The political situation in Lesotho was exacerbated by the assassination of the two military chiefs of its armed forces in 2015 and 2017, while the DRC is currently making arrangements for the combined presidential, legislative and provincial elections scheduled for December 23, 2018 amid reports of violence in some parts of the country.
Zambia, as the incoming chair of the Organ, from August 2018 to August 2019, will be expected to undertake various roles and responsibilities during her tenure at the helm of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
The roles and responsibilities of the Organ chair are in line with the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ (SIPO) for 2016-2020 and the schedule of organ statutory meetings and the respective levels of participation.
Among the critical areas of focus will be the issue of elections for member countries that are scheduled to take place within the SADC region during the tenure of Zambia as the chair of the Organ.
For instance, the following are the indicative schedule of elections in the SADC region: Zimbabwe (July/August 2018), Kingdom of Swaziland (September 2018), Madagascar (November/December 2018), Democratic Republic of Congo (December 23, 2018), Malawi (May 2019) and South Africa (between April and August 2019).
The elections in the region are held as part of upholding SADC’s continued commitment to maintaining its democratic credentials and governance principles in ensuring that governments within the SADC region are democratically elected.
The chair of the Organ, amongst others, has the responsibility to lead the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to ensure that the elections in the region are held in accordance with the Revised Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
SADC is a regional body comprising 15 member states, whose mission is to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient, productive systems, deeper cooperation and integration, good governance and peace and security so that the region emerges as a competitive and effective player in international relations and the world economy.
Historically, Zambia was one of the frontline states that contributed to the formation of SADC during the height of the liberation struggle with the intention of achieving greater unity and peace within the region.
The country has over the years continued to significantly play a critical role in promoting the spirit of SADC by fostering peace, security and cooperation in the southern African region.
However, some critics have recently pointed to the failure by SADC, following the comparative successes of other regional bodies in other regions such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to act decisively on countries and their leaders that fail to adhere to democratic principles of governance.
Therefore, as Zambia takes over as chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, other member countries should continue their support to the country’s tenure in the sustained efforts by SADC to support the democratic principles of governance and the peaceful transition of power in the region in order to attain sustainable peace, security, political stability and socio-economic development in the region.
The author is a social commentator and blogger.
Analysis: MUBANGA LUMPA