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Centre for Policy Studies (CPS)

Human movements, common regional citizenship and identity in southern Africa: Prospects for deeper integration between Lesotho and South Africa

Policy, Issues & Actors: Vol 19, No 3

Khabele Matlosa1

Centre for Policy Studies (CPS)

March 2006

SARPN acknowledges the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) as a source of this document: www.cps.org.za
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Introduction

In 2005, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) celebrates its 25th Anniversary and it is crucial to take stock and assess the extent to which regional integration is bearing fruit and how, in particular, a sense of regional citizenship is emerging. It is worth noting that the Southern African Development Coordinating Conference (SADCC) tended to focus more on reduction of member states’ economic dependence on the then apartheid South Africa, rather than driving a regional integration agenda as such. So, not much was to be expected from SADCC in terms of facilitating socio-cultural and politico-economic integration. That in part explains why issues of international migration and human movements were handled outside the SADCC framework. However, with the transformation of SADCC into SADC in 1992, regional integration has been put firmly on the agenda. The 1992 Declaration and Treaty establishing SADC adopted in Windhoek, Namibia has a clear mandate of taking the agenda of economic coordination of SADCC to that of deep economic integration and regional community. To this end, SADC member states have committed themselves to driving regional economic integration by adopting:

  • Deeper economic cooperation and integration, on the basis of balance, equity and mutual benefit, providing for cross-border investment and trade, freer movement of factors of production, goods and services across national borders


  • Common economic, political, social values and systems, enhancing enterprise and competitiveness, democracy and good governance, respect for the rule of law and the guarantee of human rights, popular participation and alleviation of poverty


  • Strengthened regional solidarity, peace and security, in order for the people of the region to live and work together in peace and harmony.2
The Treaty states boldly that “regional integration will continue to be a pipe dream unless the peoples of the region determine its content, form and direction, and are, themselves, its active agents. Measures will, therefore, be taken and appropriate mechanisms and institutional framework put in place to involve the people of the region in the process of regional integration.”3 This is one of the most powerful, if ambitious, political statements committing the political elite at the highest echelons of power in the region to drive a people-centred integration agenda. However, as the old aphorism goes: easier said than done. Francis Kornegay aptly captures the point by observing that “Southern Africa has achieved much as far as regional development, peace and security are concerned. But the question of people-centred regional citizenship and identity is not uppermost on the agenda of the region’s political establishment.”4

Since 1992, SADC has signed about 23 protocols, most of which focused on removing obstacles to free movement of capital, goods and services across borders. On the whole, while it has been relatively easy and unproblematic agreeing to and signing protocols around free trade, it has proved a toll order agreeing on a common regional framework to deal with cross-border human movements and migration. Efforts towards the adoption of commonly agreed regional frameworks to deal with regional migration flows started in earnest in July 1993, but such a framework was only agreed in August 2005 – more than a decade later.

In its recent annual Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Gaborone, Botswana, on 17 and 18 August 2005, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) adopted the Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons in SADC, which some member states signed. For the first time since 1992 when SADC was established to drive the agenda of regional cooperation away from economic coordination (which was the preoccupation of the Southern African Development Coordination Conference) towards deep integration and economic community, SADC member states have taken a political vow to drive a state-centric regional integration project with a people-centred integration agenda. How far they will succeed in propelling state-to-state regional integration and people-to-people integration still remains a moot point.

This article aims to unravel this puzzle: what has been the nature of human movements in southern Africa? How do these human movements impact on the regional integration agenda? What are the prospects for recognition of a common regional citizenship and identity, especially in respect to Lesotho-South Africa relations? The working assumptions of this paper are that: (a) political will for implementation of a regional multilateral migration regime is harder to come by relative to one required for the implementation of a bilateral migration regime; (b) so long as migration is considered a security concern, rather than a developmental concern, regional harmonisation of migration flows for mutual benefit will continue to remain a distant mirage; (c) in order to deal effectively with challenges posed by regional migration flows, SADC member states have to accelerate the process of political integration, so that political integration precedes economic integration and not the other way round as has been the case thus far; (d) regional integration must proceed simultaneously at three planes, namely state-driven process, market-driven process and people-driven process and (e) until and unless SADC member states stop clinging tenaciously to narrow national sovereignty and start to pool their regional sovereignty together, neither of the three integration processes above is likely to be realised in full.

We set the stage for subsequent discussion by sketching out the contextual framework for our understanding of the political economy of human movements, integration and regional citizenship in southern Africa.


Footnotes:
  1. Dr Khabele Matlosa is the Research Director, Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA), 2nd Floor, The Atrium, 41 Stanley Avenue, Auckland Park, Johannesburg, South Africa, Tel: 011-4825495; Fax: 011-4826163; email address: .
  2. SADC. Declaration and Treaty of the Southern African Development Community Gaborone, Botswana (mimeo), 1992: 5.
  3. SADC 8.
  4. Kornegay F. ‘Pan-African Citizenship and Identity Formation in Southern Africa: An overview of problems, prospects and possibilities.’ Johannesburg: Centre for Policy Studies (mimeo), 2005: 5.


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