Southern Africa Launches Revised Strategic Plan on Defence and Security

By Philip Emase*

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has launched a revised Strategic Indicative Plan for its Organ on Politics,
Defence and Security (SIPO). The revised SIPO – christened SIPO II -was launched on 20 November 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania, at a meeting presided over by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. SIPO II is one of the three key documents that guide the activities of the Organ, alongside the SADC Treaty and the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. Its earlier incarnation, SIPO I, was first adopted in 2004. Focussed on four sectors (the political sector, the defence sector, the state security sector and the public security sector), the revised SIPO seeks to interface state security, human security and human
development, and gives closer attention to monitoring and evaluation. It also seeks to align the SADC peace and security agenda with that of the African Union.

Addressing the Arusha meeting in his capacity as Chair of the SADC Organ, President Kikwete traced the origins of SIPO and pointed out the following six major achievements since its adoption in 2004:

  • The facilitation of defence and security cooperation among SADC countries;
  • A commitment towards collective self-defence via the SADC Mutual Defence Pact;
  • The launch and operationalisation of the SADC Standby Force;
  • The promotion of regional police cooperation to enhance the fight against organised crime and cross-border illegal activities, through the integration of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation into the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee;
  • The establishment of the Regional Early Warning Centre, tasked with helping anticipate, prevent and manage conflicts; and
  • The establishment of the SADC Electoral Advisory Council and a mediation unit, dealing with political governance and the observation of elections.

President Kikwete further underscored the ultimate objective of SIPO II to create a peaceful and stable political and security environment in the 15 SADC member countries, an objective he described as a critical precondition for the achievement of SADC’s mission to promote sustainable and equitable socio-economic growth and development across Southern Africa. The Arusha meeting also provided an opportunity for SADC and various other stakeholders to engage in a substantive dialogue
relating to Southern Africa’s regional peace and security agenda. This was achieved through a training workshop, an academic symposium and a ‘planning for implementation’ workshop organised by the SADC Directorate on Politics, Defence and Security. The purpose of these activities – scheduled to follow the SIPO II launch – was to examine and interrogate the details of SIPO II and to identify effective ways and means of operationalising its objectives.

The meeting and its attendant activities were co-organised by SADC and the Southern African Defence and Security Management Network (SADSEM). A network of ten tertiary institutions with a shared commitment towards the achievement of effective and democratic management of security in the 14 SADC member states, SADSEM is the ASSN’s regional hub for Southern Africa.

*Philip Emase is the Information and Communications Officer of the African Security Sector Network(ASSN). This article first appeared in the January 2013 edition of The ASSN Quarterly newsletter.