The SADC regional bloc: What challenges and prospects for regional integration? - pg. 22
Regional integration has been a global phenomenon seeking to strengthen the economic performance of countries within a specific bloc. In Africa, different regional economic blocs have manifested themselves as fronts for preferential trade, a bulwark against tariff regimes, as well as legal forums for co-operation and trade liberalisation. The establishment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional grouping has been informed by the desire for regional economic integration, co-operation and co-ordination. However, the regional body has encountered several challenges that have hindered the much anticipated regional economic integration. This article discusses the most primary of these challenges which include over- ambitious targets set by SADC as a roadmap to economic regional integration; multiple and concurrent memberships to different regional economic communities (RECs); the heterogeneity nature of SADC economies which has provided for uneven economic environment; duplication emanating from the activities of (the Southern African Customs Union) SACU and the SADC; the intricacies of rules of origin; different levels of economic development within SADC member states; as well as the failure of the SADC Tribunal to provide recourse to justice and act as a unifying platform for member states. The domineering nature of Zimbabwe in the proceedings and verdict of the SADC Tribunal points to the fact that lack of sincerity, as well as egocentricity on the part of some boisterous SADC member states have shown that it is difficult for the bloc to achieve regional integration based on mutual trust. As long as some member states are more equal than others, achieving regional integration based on mutual trust and selflessness would be difficult. Additionally achievements that have been attained by the SADC towards integration are discussed.