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Challenges and prospects of regionalism: the case of SADC and Zimbabwe.

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Regionalism has yielded positive results for the developed West, specifically for the deeply integrated European Union. This has not necessarily been the case for Africa, as there have been mixed results for the continent’s regional integration projects, the majority of which are failing to fully implement their mandate. Africa’s history is well-documented, but the main challenge for African countries is to wrestle themselves away from their current situation. Regionalism is seen as the panacea to the challenges that Africa is facing, particularly widespread poverty, ailing economies, underdevelopment, poor infrastructure, unstable governments, prolonged conflicts, out-of-control pandemics and other challenges plaguing the periphery states. Given the continued backwardness of African states, questions have been posed on the effectiveness of regionalism in addressing the challenges Africa is facing. This research aims to look at one of Africa’s regional integration projects, namely SADC. This study investigates the impact of the regional organization on its member states, more specifically Zimbabwe over the years as it went through a period of crisis. This research seeks to expose some of the achievements and some shortfalls of regionalism in Africa. The aim of the study is to show that even though it has had its challenges, regionalism is good for Africa. The SADC itself is also plagued with challenges that are prohibiting it from fully carrying out its mandate; so, the research also seeks to examine SADC as an institution and how it could be strengthened in order to carry out its mandate. The idea of applying African solutions to African problems is central to this study because what has worked in Europe may not necessarily be applicable to the African scenario. It is key for the study to determine how regionalism is being applied and adapted to African context. Based on what the research aims to cover it will be a qualitative research which will mainly use thematic analysis and iterative qualitative analysis for data analysis. Quantitative data will also be used to substantiate some points that require numbers and figures. The main theoretical frameworks that are used are Neofunctionalism, Intergovernmentalism, and the political economy of regionalism. One of the main findings of the research found that although there has been progress with regionalism with SADC, it is however happening at a slow pace because of the lack of commitment that member states are to the cause.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.