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Southern Africa’s need for a new regional structures model

Southern Africa’s need for a new regional structures model

Prof Gerhard Erasmus, a tralac associate, comments on Southern Africa’s need for a new regional structures model.
‘Southern Africa needs new regional structures and a new model. The latest SADC summit not only discussed the sensitive political issues around Zimbabwe’s implosion; it also dealt with what is becoming a major regional issue; namely the model in terms of which to integrate the region, ensure effective cooperation, joint policies, lowering the cost of doing business with each other etc.
What should the new rules and institutions be? Why are the present SADC structures not functioning and what are the real problem areas? Is SACU an alternative way forward? What about its revenue-sharing formula? Why are the many SADC protocols not implemented?

Many of these issues are old ones and the lack of political commitment to a true regional plan of action is part of the problem. We do not have to re-invent the wheel, but the unique developmental challenges of the region need urgent answers. However, time is of the essence; Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU are being negotiated and integration into the global economy cannot wait.

A new regional integration is very necessary but it also involves serious governance and legitimacy issues. The way the region is to be governed is at stake and therefore this debate cannot be conducted behind closed doors.

Serious questions now arise:

Why is it so difficult to make progress on regional integration?
Why is this debate conducted with so little public input?
Are the commercial and stakeholder needs taken into account?’

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