Southern African economies, over the past decades have been on crisis. As a matter of fact, the economic situation has been deteriorating in this region up to the revel that Malawi is now ten times poorer than it was a decade a go (The Lamp # 14:1). In general, Africa is worse off than the time of independence. The situation does not seem to be improving, and economically, the region is in deep crisis. Long term growth is needed to move Southern Africa out of its economic trap into a sustainable economic path. Many strategies are being put in place to achieve this. One of the strategies having been introduced is the establishment of regional bodies like Southern African Development Conference (SADC) . Some development proponents have argued that the future of Southern African economies depends on strengthening these regional bodies. This article gives a critical explanation of my viewpoint to see how valid this proposition is. It looks at the subject of strengthening regional integration as one way of moving the region out of its crisis.
This article has been divided into six phases. The first section gives a brief over view of Southern African economies. The second part focuses on some of the factors that have led the region into its present scenario. This section traces both external and internal factors. Having looked at the economic situation that the region has been trapped in, the article in its third part introduces the concept of regional integration which results into regional bodies. The article will also give some of the advantages. There after, the article looks at SADC as one of the regional bodies that were set up to encourage regional integration and with an aim of removing the region from its economic crisis. Having looked at SADC as a case study, the article gives some of challenges of regional integration in Southern Africa with a focus on why despite having SADC, the region is still in crisis. From this outlook of region integration, the article gives a critical appraisal to see if the future of Southern African economies sorely depends on strengthening of regional bodies. This part also gives some recommendations of what ought to be done if regional integration has to be successful. Thereafter, the last part is the conclusion.
SOUTHERN AFRICAN ECONOMIES IN CRISIS
Southern African region seems to have come into a full circle to a position of real promise in the four decades since most countries in the region attained independence. At independence there were great expectations of rapid economic and social progress. However, no any great economic improvement has been achieved ever since. The region is in great economic crisis. As a region, Southern Africa is economically at the crossroads. Regardless of the economic strategies that are carried in the region, it remains the poorest region in the world. According to the UNDP’s 2000 human Development Report, of the 43 countries on its least of developed countries, 29 are in SSA, and 74% of the low human development on the HDI belongs to this region. Southern Africa, which is part of the SSA, has both economic and human development declining. Ahmed and Cleeve (2004:15) describe Southern African region as the “the only major region where per capita income…has declined over an extended period of time”. Southern Africa is the only region where economic development appears to be moving in reverse with different development strategies failing to halt the spiral (ibid). Malawi, a country in the region, according to The Lamp# 14(1), is now ten times poorer than it was a decade ago. No wonder, the region continues to have economic indicators that are among the worst in the world. Economically, this is partially with the economic crisis as growth stagnated in the 1980 and although a number of countries in the region undertook far reaching economic reforms, the region’s aggregate economic performance remained disappointingly weak, with falling real incomes per capita (Ahmed and Cleeve, 2004:12). Economically, it is therefore indispensable that the southern African region is in crisis. No wonder the region is the poorest in the world since income is highly linked to the development of any nation . All in all, the region is economically in great economic crisis.
FACTORS FOR THE CRISIS
1. SOME EXTERNAL FACTORS
There are many factors that have led to the present economic situation. Both external shocks and domestic factors contribute to the overall poor economic performance in Southern Africa. On the first place, it should be pointed out that there are many external factors that have contributed to the economic crisis in the region. Firstly, the present economic situation has its roots beyond colonization era. Josef D. Zalot critically asserts that “the intention of colonizers was not to develop the continent…but to exploit Africa ands its resources for their own personal wealth and [that of the] mother nation”. Furthermore, colonialists followed a labor intensive and seized land from their indigenous people who ended up being homeless. Thirdly, the colonialists followed the monoculture system. African countries continue to have focus on a single product as the primary means of moving into prosperity (ibid). Malawi highly depends on tobacco, which is deteriorating on the world market. This follows that in terms of price devaluation, the region has no any other income generating product. Additionally, since many countries in the region retained the monoculture system, their economic fortunes are tied to the prices they receive for their goods on the international markets.
A. FOREGN INVESTMENT, AID and DEBT
Further more, some external factors that have risen to the crisis are the decline in the levels of foreign investment and unintended effect of foreign aid and debt. On the first hand, in the 1980s net foreign investment in Africa fell by over 50% from US$1.22 billion to $ 498 million. The region is characterized with low investment rates (15-20%) and lower saving rate (10-15%) (Page, 2000:34). Aid also declined in years that followed tremendously. Official development aid to Southern Africa had fallen to US$12.3billion by the end of 1999 from US$17.2 billion a decade before (Ahmed and Cleeve, 2004:22). The region therefore lacks finances to service their deteriorating income which is left to keep on declining. Additionally, when donors give out aid they have target areas where the aid is directed, thereby addressing some of which have no any capacity to generate income. In most cases, such aid is just wasted without improving the economic capacity of the countries. On the other hand, Africa is in crisis because of the debt. When African countries were gaining independence, they ventured into extensive borrowing to provide people with expectations as well as with an effort to shore up their deteriorating economies and shrinking domestic resources base (Ahmed and Cleeve, 2004:13). However, given the very low and declining rates of return on public outlays plus increase in interest rates, external debts often became unsustainable. No wonder, arrears accumulated and the amount of debt to be repaid reached unbearable level. External indebtedness shows that from a starting position of MK980.6 million in 1984, Malawi descended into a deep pit which stood at MK 373, 219.63 million in 2005 (Hajat, 2007:7). Debt serving for Malawi, before the debt relief, comprised of MK152.6 million in 1985 and rose to an untenably high figure of MK10.8 billion in 2005, whilst interest payments rose from MK 62.8 million to MK3.2 billion during the same period . This follows that African countries, especially the high borrowing countries which are found in the Southern African region, repay more on debt than they got. It is therefore not surprising that Zalot (ibid) critically states that “the international community, unethically demand repayments of debt that exists primarily as a result of increase in interest rates”. However, over years the economic problem that plunged the Malawian economy, just like in many African countries, saw the country move into a negative GDP growth rates ranging from -4.4% in 1980 to -5.2% in 1981 even in the presence of heavy borrowing (Chilowa, 1991:2). The foreign debt for Southern Africa reached US$ 290 billion in 1992 making it the most debt-distressed region in the world (Ihonvbere, n.d:130). Debt affects the economic status in Southern Africa because its servicing began to drain massive economic resources from the region with US$ 26 million paid out in 1991 alone (ibid). Expenditure on other economic strategies continues to decline drastically since focus is on debt servicing.
B. FOREGN POLICIES
Most importantly, Southern African Economy is in crisis because of the foreign income policies that have been pursued in the region. The donor community mostly dictates policies that are not applicable to the region and respective countries. As for the donor community, they follow a principle of ‘a policy that works in one country works for all’ ignoring the differences in development levels and availability of resources of different countries (ibid). The countries in the region, just like other poor countries in the world over, accept these policies so as to qualify for the aid and debt. The most common inappropriate economic policies to have been carried in the region are the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs). As it became apparent that the economic borrowing could not be alleviated by high levels of borrowing, the Government of Malawi embarked on a program to deal with its structural problems and by 1981/82 period a broad-based structural adjustment program was launched to restore economy to some levels of sustainable economic levels (ibid). SAPs were implemented and designed in such a way as to give incentives to the production of tradable, rationalize government expenditure and strengthen key institutions (ibid). This was with a view to set up the stage for sustainable macroeconomic growth. Trade was to be liberated, subsidies were supposed to be removed and companies be privatized. However, SAPs have been criticized from the word go. Devereaux and Cook (2001:1) critically assert that “[SAPs], as conventionally designed and derived, leave the [economic] needs of the poor countries in adequately addressed”. The IMF and The World Bank transplanted the SAPs in Southern Africa “without taking the views of the people in the poor countries, hence SAPs had little adaptation to local realities” (ibid). SAPs reflected the experts’ priorities rather than local realities. The common principles for SAPs were the need for market liberalization and privatization with a premise of increasing economic efficiency . However, market liberalization and removal of subsidy has resulted into high prices. Secondly, privatization process which is an ingredient of SAPs, has led to high unemployment levels and reduction of real wages as private entities could not mange a concentrated company in the country. Privatization does not provide any restraining or alternative opportunity because SAPs force government to trim their budgets . In short, SAPs have failed to achieve in most southern African countries as it has increased unemployment rate, lowered income for people in the informal sector and expenditure on development services like education and health in the name of lowering public expenditure hence lowering the levels of HDI. This resulted into the worsening of social indicators. Significantly to note, just like in almost all countries in Southern Africa where the policies were set, SAPs failed to lead the country into a significant structural change in the economy (Chilowa, 1994:33-34). Weeks (1996:101-2) sees that SAPs have failed to transform Southern Africa “by all relevant criteria as it focused on state stabilization and not growth”. It was based on the presumption that countries operates independently of each other. SAPs regarded poor countries as mere recipient rather than the actual agents of change . Modern integration must therefore consider the poor countries as the protagonist of the integration process if economic growth is to be sustained.
Like SAPs, capitalism has also a hand in the economic situation in Africa. Just like SAPs, capitalism encourages market liberalization, a strategy that failed during SAPs. SAPS forced Africa to unilaterally liberalize their trade regimes, a development that has failed Africa. All in all, externally, the most important factors that militate against Southern African economies is the forced repayment of debt which approaches levels of GNP and the imposition of SAPs.
2. INTERNAL FACTORS
Apart from the external factors, Africa is in crisis because of some other internal factors that, like the external factors, have a hand in causing the present income scenario. Firstly, the Southern African region is identified with poor governance. It is factually proved that poor governance work against income growth because of resource misallocation (ibid). There were rampant cases of corruption and intolerance, which are all signs of poor governance, over the past decade in the country. Another important internal factor is economic and political instability. There have been cases of high political instability and economic inflation in many countries in Southern Africa like Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. The Kampala Declaration (cited in Ihonvbere, n.d:125) clearly asserts that “the erosion of security and stability is one major causes of [Africa’s] continuing crises and one of the principal impediments to the creation of a sound economy and effective intra-and inter-African cooperation”. The increase of political violence in the region chases any sort of investors. No investor is motivated to invest in a country where the probability of an eruption of wars is high. The region has been characterized with civil wars. A very good example is that Malawi’s economy began to weaken in the late 1970s because of the disruption of trade route through Mozambique where there was a civil war. All in all foreign capital flows into countries that show signs of stability and progress (ibid).
Additionally, another important factor is the brain drain. Sefa Dei and Asghrzade (2002:31) explain that “basically, the brain drain entails the transfer of human knowledge, experience, skill and expertise from one area…to another”. Eventually, the movement is oriented towards the most highly developed countries. However, this has resulted into the shortage of skilled and potential human resources that could develop the region economically. Just like the slave trade, Southern Africa is left with less productive citizens that can produce economic results. Related to brain drain, Southern Africa economies face its greatest challenge in unbearable rise in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Ahmed and Cleeve (2004:24) observe rightly that “the spread of HIV/AIDS threatens any income development strategy since the victims are potential and productive citizens in the region”. This follows that the region does not improve economically and remains in crisis. Further more, a lot of money is spent on buying drugs the AIDS related diseases instead of being allocated in other areas where they can generate high profits.
All in all, the causes of these crisis, aggravated by severe drought of the past several years plus the above factors , by and large, southern African countries apart from few like South Africa, less developed than those countries on other countries (White head, 1986). The region has also suffered from deteriorating terms of trade. Altogether, sub-Saharan Africa’s terms of trade have declined by approximately 13% since 1977, with each 1% costing these countries about US$200 million in lost net export earnings (ibid).
Due to the above factors, Southern Africa, in all economic indicators, has made very little progress since political independence in the 1960. Ihonvbere (n.d:125) states that the region lags very behind other developing regions, not only in economic indicators but also ink other indicators of development.
With an attempt to remove Southern Africa from the economic crisis trap, many strategies have been introduced and pursued in the region. One of the most popular strategies being pursued in the whole region is Regional Integration. The concept of Regional Integration is a very complex concept and it has so many meanings. Wikipedia (2006) defines regional integration as “a process in which state enter into supranational regional organization in order to increase regional cooperation and diffuse tension” . A critical point in this definition is that countries come together to form a community and function for the benefit of the whole regional society with un understanding that various countries in the region are essential elements in for the development of the whole region. Secondly, Lee (2003:8) critically agrees that regionalism, which results from regional integration, is an ambiguous term. She goes on to define regional integration as “the adoption of a regional project by a formal regional economic organization designed to enhance the political, economic, social, cultural and security integration and/or cooperation of member states”. This definition is such a critical one as it also includes other spheres in integration apart from the economic that most scholars assert. Regional integration, as seen in this definition ranges from economic perspective to any type of social activity among actors in a particular region. This is why the term also becomes ambiguous, that apart from having so many definitions with no exact meaning, regional integration also results due to some other social needs. It must therefore clearly be pointed here that regional integration involves interaction of different societal forces within a region. By analyzing the above definitions, in this essay regional integration means the “process by which states within a particular region enter into a cooperation to increase the levels of interaction with regard to economical, security, political and cultural issues”. Bach (cited on Lee, 2003:8) explains that formal regional integration is “represented by institutional forms of cooperation or integration” and is defined as the aggregation and fusion into broader units of existing territories or field of interventions. As for the informal network, Bach (ibid) states that “it is represented by trans-state and results in the exploitation of dysfunctions and disparities generated by existing boundaries with debilitating effects on sate territorial control”. It is the inform way of rectifying trans-state problems in an informal way.
A range of different set of ideas explains integration. As for Africa, Lee (2003:22) observes that regional integration has largely been pursued within the context of three theories. Firstly, regional integration has pursued in the form of market/economic integration. According to Lee (ibid), this is a strategy that SADCC members rejected when it was being established but it was later adopted and is being pursed by the current transformed bloc. This strategy refers to different degrees of integration in the same linear progression. Market integration has different forms which include Free Trade Area (FTA), Customs Union (CU), Common Market, Economic Union Total Economic Integration and Political Union. The second theory that explains regionalism in Africa is regional cooperation. By adopting this strategy in 1980, SADCC was attempting to enhance the development of the region in order to bring about regional structural transformation (ibid). The primary concern was altering the economic structures of dependence that existed between SADCC member states and apartheid regime in South Africa as enhanced regional trade though market integration was to be a future goal of the body. Lastly, development integration is another set of ideas that explains Africa’s regional integration that focuses only on social development (ibid).
Regionalism is viewed by many as an ideal possible way for Southern Africa to arrest its economic crisis and Africa’s further marginalization within the world economy abet through pursuing a “new regional agenda”. Regional integration is considered as a very important development in transforming the region’s economic situation. Firstly, regional blocs make it inevitable to bring about strengthening of transnational trade and finances in order to achieve meaningful economic growth and development (Olubomelin and Kawonishe, 2004) . Successful regional integration reduces transaction costs. Olubomelin and Kawonishe (ibid) observe that “the same commodity is expensive at a [Malawian] market than at the South African market”. This is so because South Africa has ports and no transport expenses and no internal tariffs are added to the commodity while all these are added in Malawi (ibid). As a result of these, goods are expensive in the interior landlocked countries. However, with regional bodies, these tariffs are removed for member countries and good costs almost the same price regardless of how far the country is from sea ports. Further more, regional integration allows economies of scale, attracts direct investments and makes macro economic coordination easier (ibid). This is because, due to integration, countries become like one since integration results into a community of countries. Olesegun Obasanjo, the State President of Nigeria, in support of this fact, asserted that
“regional economic cooperation and integration make it possible for African countries to collectively build integrative
infrastructure in transport, communication energy and [any trade infrastructure]] which would otherwise be too costly for individual, small and fragmented African countries to undertake. Above all, in the ruthlessly competitive world of globalization and [market] liberation, cooperation and integration offers [African states] the only chance to be relevant and to speak with one voice in international negotiations” (cited in Olubomelin and Kawonishe, 2004).
This follows that economic growth for Southern Africa can be achieved with collective action. This follows that strengthening of regional bodies is ideal to achieve economic growth since integration removes trade barriers.
Even though African governments began creating regional blocs with a view to enhance economic growth and development, up to date, these objectives have not been achieved. This is because regional integration in Southern Africa has faced different challenges. This phase of an essay provides a brief overview of some challenges of regional integration in the region.
Lack of commitment is the first most important challenge that is ruining the successful of regional integration in Southern Africa. Different countries don’t have the political will to put the common agenda of the region as their priorities. Shams (22003:16) into the economic observe that this is partially “due to different political ideologies of the member countries and their external alliances, and also due to the problems arising from the distribution of gains from integration”. Countries that follow different government ideologies can hardly integrate. This is why South Africa was being excluded in SADCC, and joined SADC when it moved from apartheid to multiparty democracy. Furthermore, just as globalization has been criticized, gains obtained from regional integration are unequally distributed among the member states. This forces other countries to fully participate in programs of regional bodies in Southern Africa.
Secondly, regional integration fails to succeed because of overlapping of membership in regional blocs that have similar goals and objectives (Lee, 2003:235). This is possible because countries lack the political commitment to regionalism and end up taking part in different regional blocs. At present Malawi belongs to both SADC and COMESA. Even though this might results to increase trade areas, overlapping of membership prevents the successful of implementing goals and projects which becomes problematic (Sham, 2003:16). Member countries would be unwilling to implement goals which would not fully address their needs when the other bloc has programmes that are ideal for their need. All in all, the overlapping of membership, just as Lee (2003:2) asserts significantly, undermines regional integration as a result of the inevitable regulations and commitments because they are obliged to blocs with similar objectives. because
Most importantly regionalization has failed to be rooted in Africa because most of the regional blocs have no common value (Nathan, 2004:92). As a result most individual countries have different values among that sometimes conflict those of regional blocks. As a result, it becomes hard temperament operations in the region. So far, efforts at regionalism have been an elite affair as countries lack different agendas (Ihonvbere, n.d148). Further more, as evident in SADC, regional integration is not succeeding in its programmes because member countries are reluctant to surrender a measure of sovereignty in decision making (ibid). As there is great absence of political will and common goals in regional blocs in Southern Africa, mutual trust and shared vision is also no present. As a result countries prefer working on an individual basis to address their needs.
Additionally, region integration in Southern Africa has highly been undermined by NEPAD. Melber (2004:87) points out that “NEPAD undermines regional blocs as programmes [it carries in the region] are implemented mainly by countries and not by regional blocs”. The significance role of regional bodies is therefore not felt as important. This can also be seen in the African Union’s idea to be the supreme voice of development economic strategies within the sub-regions, a role which is supposed to be carried by specific regional bodies. Ihonvbere (n.d:134) also notes that “intra-trade cooperation has been impossible as a precipitate of lack of security and instability, as consequently, instability and economic crisis in one country reduces the stability most all other African Countries”. As already indicated, Southern Africa is best with macroeconomic instability because of mismanagement, corruption and economic policies which are imposed by the donor countries (Lee, 2003:3). In Additional, Southern Africa is also in economic crisis because of globalization. Nye (in Lee, 2003:15) defines globalization as a “state of the world involving networks of interdependence at multi continental distance. Globalization has resulted into the proliferation of regional blocs, market economic policies spreading around the world, market liberalization and privatization (SAPs). However, the major beneficiaries of this strategy have been the core countries of the world economy. Prices and economic policies are mostly predetermined either by the World Trade Organization or by high-income superpowers. Malawi and other poor countries in the region do not have a say on export prices like tobacco
In addition that regional integration has deteriorated in Africa is the argument raised by some other proponents that regional blocs for the region should highly depend on South Africa. Chinsinga (2001:1) wrongly asserts that South Africa “being both a regional economic and political power, [it] is better placed to guide the integration of Southern Africa sub-region towards the highly competitive and volatile global market”. In as far as South Africa can play crucial role in engaging the economic forces, it also has its priorities at the expense of other countries (see Tambulasi and Kayuni). Economic and state driven integration is obsolete (van Nieuwkerk, 2006:8). By focusing only on trade, most of the integrations have ignored other facets that have caused the crisis. These facets are left to accumulate. Ochwada (2004:73) therefore argues that “while strategies for regional integration have [had] good objectives, they…certainly remain attractive on paper if other social factors” that contribute to the economic crisis are not considered as crucial in the integration processes. There are many facets of factors that have contributed to the economic crisis of the region.
SADC AS A REGIONAL BLOC
This phase, having looked at the general over view of regional integration, gives a practical framework of SADC that will allow us to see if indeed strengthening of regional blocs is ideal for the future of Southern African Economies. Regionalism in Southern Africa has a long-standing tradition. Ochwada (2004:76) highlights that “integration schemes in Africa predates pre-colonial times as people coexisted and lived mutually without regard of rigid political boundaries. Furthermore, Tambulasi and Kayuni (2005:147) agree with Ochwada by indicating that “ubuntu is the basis of African communal life hence a basis of cooperation…[as it] brings the nature of African image of supportiveness and cooperation in the interests of regional building”. This follows that regional integration is rooted in the African culture. In southern Africa, the political appeal of regional integration has historically been strengthened by apartheid regime in South Africa. The Kampala Declaration, which is a result of African Leaders Forum in May 1991, acknowledges that “the sovereignty of every African state and …the development of every African country is in inseparable linked with those of other African state (cited in Ihonvbere n.d: 134). The declaration calls for the common agenda because “Africa can not make any progress on any other front without creating collective agenda”. The “Cooperation Calabash”, an aspect of the Kampala Declaration, no wonder affirms that “African countries cannot expect to compete or develop individually, in the evolving international economic system dominated by regional economic blocs and globalization” (cited in Ihonvbere, n.d: 145). This assertion is calling for collective regional cooperation.
There are many regional bodies in southern Africa. These include SADC, COMESA and SACU. This essay focuses only at SADC. For the sake of this essay, we will only look at SADC as a case study. SADC was formulated in 1980, as SADCC with a primary objective to reduce economic dependence Southern African Countries on apartheid regime of South Africa (Chinsinga, 2002:3). SADCC was formed as a strategy to counter apartheid destabilization strategies and promote decolonization in Southern Africa region. Lee (2003:4) clearly indicate that by focusing of this agenda “SADCC’s major function was political so as to mite the region against the apartheid regime of South Africa”. In this regard, the agenda could only be achieved through regional cooperation. This objective was political in nature. However, the objectives were not achieved since, instead of being independent of South Africa’s economy, with destabilization policy in South Africa, member states increased their economic dependency by 1989 (ibid:45). This makes it clear that countries in southern Africa could not survive economically without South Africa . SADCC failed since the strategy of regional cooperation was not deep and changes were not accomplished regarding key issues (Lee, 2003:23). Because it failed to achieve its objectives, through the Windhoek Treaty of 1992, SADCC was transformed into SADC in 1992 (Shams, 2003:22) with trade as its major agenda of its regional protocol so as to establish a Free Trade Area (FTA) (ibid). This transformation was enhanced by destabilization strategies followed by South Africa and by globalization . Member states of SADCC felt that Market integration was a necessity equipment to avoid further marginalization on the world market and reduce the economic dependence on South Africa (ibid:7). Unlike SADCC, which was designed to make a greater political statement rather than an economic one, SADC’s major objective was therefore to foster market integration, making the objective be trade oriented. Ever since the transformation it SADC, intra and international trade has been encouraged.
However, the economy situation of the region has not been improved. Southern Africa remains the poorest region in the world with 40% of 600 million people living on less than a dollar a day (ibid: 1). The number of poor people in the region has tremendously increased and deepened. Most of the poorest countries in the world are from this region, with Malawi being the 11th poorest country (the World Bank Report, 2006). Southern Africa is significantly worse off today than they were at the point of freedom from colonial domination, [forty] years ago (The World Bank, cited in Ihonvbere, n.d:129). Even in the presence of SADC, economic conditions are not improving in the region.
FACTORS HINDERING SADC
There are so many factors that hinder SADC, just like any other integration to transform the region economic condition. Firstly, high economic growth is needed. Blaauw and Bishchoff (cited on Chinsinga, 2002:12) infer that “the region must create at least 8% annual economic growth rate if is to make substantial roads into the reduction of its economic crisis”. This is a huge amount in as far as economic growth is concerned and Chinsinga (2002:12-13) clearly asserts that “the prevailing circumstances [in the region] make it unrealistic to think that SADC could reach, let alone sustain this level of growth”. Secondly, member states lack the political will to implement the objectives of the bloc. Countries have no common value and are reluctant to surrender a measure of sovereignty in decision making . Most countries in SADC have individual goal as a result of this political will. The lack of political will to foster the bloc’s agenda can easily be seen in South Africa’s idea to venture into an agreement with the EU without the consent of other member states of the region . South Africa made unilateral negotiations with the EU on Free Trade Agreement without consulting other members of SADC (Bischoff, 2003:15). In addition, SADC lacks the economic tool to remove dependence syndrome on the international economy and in particular the deleterious economies and social effects of SAPs (Pallotti, 2004:592). Furthermore, the neo liberal market pursued by SADC in 1990s has worsened the economic condition (ibid).
The transformation of SADCC into SADC has actually meant the loss of any regional capacity to ably promote the structural transformation of the economies in the region. Pallotti (2004:515) critically observe that the “transformation however…did not elaborate any program and strategies [and up to now] member states have not reached an agreement on new industrialization strategy”. This is why liberalization of intra-regional trade has become the only pillar of economic integration strategy promoted by SADC.
Additionally, SADC is failing to succeed because of the high levels of political and economic instability. Dr. Bakili Muluzi, then Chairman of the SADC, argued that SADC’s economic goal will be irrelevant unless the region achieve peace and economic security”. Peace and economic stability are prerequisites for economic growth since it attracts different investors. However, fledging democracies in Malawi, DRC and Zimbabwe undermines SADC’s effort to integrate Southern Africa into an economic bloc. No wonder, economic growth is failing to be increased as there are great resource mismanagement in the region and also great political violence. Economic and political instability in the SADC region also poses major challenges to the implementation of a successful strategy of regionalism, hence regionalism is not rooted in the region.
All in all, regionalism has failed because the region lacks the prerequisite of good governance. Leaders in the region highly undermine the provisions of the constitution which is the principle of good governance. This can be seen in the delay of local government elections in Malawi (Nkhoma, 2007:15) and in the undemocratic top-down approach that political parties follow which floods into the government system at large (Nkhoma, 2007:8). It is therefore inevitable to have bad governance since undemocratic procedures seem to be rooted in people in the region at a large as seen in Malawi and also Zimbabwe. Good governance is a prerequisite for both regional integration and sustainable growth.
The task to transform the Southern African region into a haven of prosperity appears quite a significant challenge. A lot must be done so that regional integration assists in the development of the economic environment in the region. Most importantly, for programs to succeed, regional integration objectives must be clear, and more important, national interests, regional goals, and sovereignty issues should be balanced and harmonized a buy-in by Africans at grassroots levels, including civil society and the private sector. Regional integration should not only be a building of the state presidents . Countries must review all other challenges that SADC has faced like lack of political will so that they pursue a common agenda in its program. Within the context of strengthening regional integration in Southern Africa, some of its regional economic hegemony like South Africa must avoid tactics used by triad blocs to enhance their access to regional markets by creating special economic relations with these countries in the form of Free Trade Agreements (Lee, 2003:41). Other facets also need to be considered because there can be no growth and integration without peace, security and stability as seen in this essay. The ultimate objective, as seen from this essay, should be to integrate the region into some sort of an indigenously managed regional order with a participatory bottom up approach (Ochiwada, 2004:76). Income growth is a result of both political as well as social factors rather than trade alone. All in all, there is a long way to go to place Southern Africa on a sound economic path. Regional Integration should incorporate other social services rather than trade alone. Since trade-focused market integration schemes have failed in Africa, a regional strategy that deals with economic and political realities of the Southern African region should begin by unequivocally rejecting market integration (ibid). Governments should also come up with the strategies for enhancing trade without adversely affecting the weaker member states, without imposing income policies. In addition, consideration can be taken of the prospect for increased intra-regional trade without creating a free trade area or common market (Lee, 2003:237).
Deep regional integration should also include the informal sector if it has to succeed. Reattaching the informal sector to the informal economy would itself lend to more potential for enhancing economic development and regionalism. A good example is that if half of Malawi’s trade with its neighbor takes place in the informal trade sector, it can be concluded that a high degree of integration exists (ibid: 238).
From this essay, it can therefore be inferred that strengthening of regional bodies can hardly succeed in the getting lid of the economic situation. There are so many facets that contribute to the economic crisis. Unless regional bodies are formulated to address all these dimensions, nothing tangible can be achieved by the strengthening of regional blocs. In conclusion, this essay has tried to explain my viewpoint to see if the future of Southern African economies depends on strengthening of regional bodies like SADC. We see that to remove Africa from its economic crisis, a lot has to be done. From the essay, we see that regional bodies in Southern Africa leave a lot to be desired, hence economic crisis can hardly be eradicated with strengthening of these blocs.
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