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Reviewed by:
  • Region-Building in Southern Africa: progress, problems and prospects ed. by Chris Saunders, Gwinyayi Dzinesa, and Dawn Nagar
  • Keith Gottschalk (bio)
Chris Saunders, Gwinyayi Dzinesa, and Dawn Nagar (eds) (2012) Region-Building in Southern Africa: progress, problems and prospects. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press; London: Zed Press

This book's 16 chapters are well-organised into five parts: Historical legacy; Governance and military security; Economic integration; Human security; and External actors. The three editors each contribute a chapter in addition to the 'Introduction' and 'Conclusion'. It contains the obligatory three page list of ninety-four abbreviations and acronyms, plus tables, figures, a map and boxes. It also has a foreword by the energetic Adekeye Adebajo, whose Centre for Conflict Resolution initiated the project that became this book.

Dawn Nagar merits praise for being almost the first researcher to realise the importance for sub-regional integration of one of our continent's three operational regional power pools, the Southern African Power Pool. Few are aware that this is geographically the biggest competitive power pool in the world. One suggestion for improvement if there is a second edition: surely the salient point in the Chikova chapter she cites is not the table on installed capacity versus available capacity, but Chikova's figures 10.2, 10.3, and 10.4 on inter-state trading in electricity?

The opening chapters by Gilbert Khadiagala and Kaire Mbuende ground readers in the history and context of today's Southern African Development Community (SADC). They collectively provide a solid reality check on the SADC's limitations and problems. There are two regrettable omissions of [End Page 295] basic information. Mbuende correctly makes repeated references to SADC being 'unable to provide adequate resources and sufficient staffing to their Secretariat [...] no true regional capability was created' (41). Yet although he was a former Executive Secretary of SADC, he nowhere informs readers what the budget was! It is left up to Chris Landsberg to tell us that the 2009/ 10 budget for the Secretariat was $54m - of which $28 came from foreign donors (67).

Even more frustrating is the lack of quantification on the SADC personnel establishment. Mbuende, in addition to the quotes above, mourns that 'The bottom line is the number of staff that member states are willing to finance in the Secretariat' (56) but nowhere states how many posts they do have. Landberg alludes to the Secretariat's 'limited staff' (64), 'continues to be understaffed' (70), 'suffered from weak strategic management, poor administrative systems and weak technical competencies' (70). This reviewer's research indicated a number of years ago that the SADC Secretariat numbered under 120 persons, but it would be good to have this confirmed or corrected, and updated. Equally important would be to inform scholars how many posts on the SADC establishment are for econometrists, statisticians, and trade lawyers.

Mzukisi Qobo is another contributor whose excellent analytic chapter succinctly draws our attention to a historic irony. The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) owes its invention to British imperialism, when Lord Milner summoned the Customs Conference of 1903, to order all the colonies he ruled over to form a customs union. Eleven decades later, EU imperialism (including the UK) seeks to dismember the SACU through three divide-and-rule Economic Partnership Agreements. His detailed account of the EU's brusque strategy and tactics ought to be compulsory reading for all foreign policy journalists who glibly criticise our Government for its anti-western bias. It should also be prescribed reading for all students and negotiators-in-training.

Another strength of this book is David Monyae's chapter on the development finance institutions, often overlooked in literature on African integration. He reminds readers how both the Industrial Development Corporation and the Development Bank of Southern Africa have had their statutory mandates broadened to empower them to operate in the rest of Africa on infrastructure projects.

The volume closes with one chapter on each of the EU, US, and Chinese policies and practices to the SADC and its member states and economies. [End Page 296]

One mistake is when an author alleges that atomic power is 'the most cost-effective means of generating electricity' (134). To the contrary, the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1726-1368
Print ISSN
0258-7696
Pages
pp. 295-298
Launched on MUSE
2013-09-12
Open Access
No
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