Importance of SADC Relations for Zimbabwe: A Closer Look at the Consequences of Antagonism
12 September 2023
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Kennedy Masiye

By Kennedy Masiye | Zimbabwe finds itself at a critical crossroads as concerns grow over the lack of free and fair elections within its borders held on August 28-29, 2023. In this context, it is crucial for Zimbabwe to carefully consider its relationship with the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Zimbabwe is a founder Member State of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), having been one of the nine countries that formed the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) in Lusaka, Zambia, in April 1980. SADCC transformed into SADC in 1992 with the signing of the SADC Treaty in Windhoek, Namibia.

Antagonizing the regional body would have severe repercussions for Zimbabwe’ stability, economy, and international standing. This article will delve into why it is in Zimbabwe’s best interest to maintain a positive rapport with SADC, while highlighting the potential backlash that would arise from a decision to withdraw.

1. Economic Consequences:

SADC membership has been instrumental in driving economic growth and development in Zimbabwe. The organization provides preferential trade agreements and market access to member countries, fostering regional trade and investment. By withdrawing from SADC, Zimbabwe would risk losing these economic benefits. Reduced trade opportunities, diminished foreign direct investment, and potential economic isolation would significantly impact the nation’s prosperity and impede its path to recovery.

2. Political Isolation:

SADC plays a pivotal role in regional politics and diplomacy, acting as a platform for dialogue and cooperation among member states. By antagonizing SADC and disregarding warnings about flawed elections, Zimbabwe risks political isolation within the region. This isolation would hinder its ability to engage in regional decision-making processes, resolve conflicts, and garner support from neighboring countries during times of crisis.

3. Security Concerns:

SADC places strong emphasis on promoting peace, stability, and security within the region. By ignoring concerns about the legitimacy of elections, Zimbabwe could jeopardize its security cooperation with SADC member states. This collaboration includes joint military exercises, intelligence sharing, and coordinated efforts to combat transnational crime. Withdrawal from SADC would undermine these critical security partnerships and potentially leave Zimbabwe more vulnerable to security threats.

4. Legal Implications:

Zimbabwe’s membership in SADC is governed by the SADC Treaty and various protocols that outline the principles and obligations of member states. These agreements encompass democratic governance, human rights, and the rule of law. A decision to withdraw from SADC would likely breach these legal commitments, leading to diplomatic disputes and potential legal repercussions. Such a scenario would further strain Zimbabwe’s international reputation and erode trust among its regional partners.

5. Diminished Regional Influence:

SADC provides Zimbabwe with a platform to exert regional influence and participate in shaping policies and initiatives. By severing ties with SADC, Zimbabwe would forfeit its voice in regional decision-making processes, making it more challenging to advance its own interests and concerns within the Southern African region. This diminished influence would impede Zimbabwe’s ability to advocate for its priorities and seek regional support for its developmental goals.


Maintaining a positive and constructive relationship with SADC is of paramount importance for Zimbabwe’s stability, prosperity, and integration within the Southern African region. Antagonizing SADC and ignoring warnings about flawed elections would result in severe consequences. These include economic disadvantages, political isolation, security concerns, potential legal implications, and a diminished regional influence. It is in Zimbabwe’s best interest to heed the warnings, address electoral concerns, and work collaboratively with SADC to uphold democratic principles, thereby securing a brighter future for the nation and its people.


– Southern African Development Community (SADC) Treaty
– SADC Protocol on Politics, Defense, and Security Cooperation
– SADC Protocol on Trade

Article written by: Adv. Kennedy Masiye