South Africa has called for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Treaty and Declaration to be amended in order to allow the sub-region to meet its growth prospects.

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe made the call when he addressed the plenary session of the 17th annual SADC Lawyers’ Association Conference and General Meeting here last Friday.

The SADC Treaty and Declaration, signed in 1992, led to the creation of the sub-regional bloc which harmonised trade and investment among 10 of its 15 member States — Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“It would be my sincerest wish that you have reflected and contemplated on these regional objectives and considered whether trade, investment and legal practice harmonisation is achievable under the current SADC treaty framework,” Radebe said.

” The question must be whether the current SADC treaty is fit for purpose. Does it allow for the creation of an adequate mechanism to harmonise our efforts of regional integration?”

Radebe called for the treaty, which has been amended several times over the past few years, to be reviewed and amended in order to improve the lives of all people in the sub-region. He proposed that an SADC Tribunal be established and adequately capacitated to ensure the application and implementation of harmonised laws in the sub-region.

By doing this, the legal profession would help unleash the full potential of the sub-region to meet the growth, skills development and employment targets to create a better life for all in the SADC region, he said.

“It is important that all of our governments, businesses and stakeholders join hands to collaborate with the legal profession as we advance on our roadmap of Agenda 2063 – the Africa we want,” he added.

“Developing economies in the SADC sub-region may not have much control over the many challenges that they face today, but that does not mean we are powerless. Much more can be done to sustain moderate growth and ensure a more prosperous and resilient future.”