South Africa drafts landmark Maritime Security Strategy

SADC member state flags in Pretoria. Credit: SADC

In July, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Joint Technical Working Group met in Pretoria, South Africa, ton continue drafting the Maritime Security Strategy (MSS) to bring it closer to ratification.

The MSS is part of South Africa’s efforts to tackle piracy blighting its country and its navigating ships. Thirty six delegates representing 11 SADC member states were present, including Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The South African Navy said in a statement that the workshop succeeded in creating a draft SADC Integrated Maritime Security Strategy (IMSS). The Navy added that the draft IMSS has, “sound strategic objectives” aligned with the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy.

Following their participation in the meeting, representatives of SADC member states were instructed to present the draft copy of the SADC IMSS to their wider teams for ratification. Feedback from the respective SADC member states is to be submitted to the SMC Secretariat by 30 August 2019 in order for the SMC Secretariat, supported by the SADC Secretariat, to finalise the document.

The SMC Secretariat and the SADC Secretariat will meet in September 2019 to finalise the draft SADC IMSS.

South Africa has taken the lead in regional maritime security, as most other nations have limited naval capabilities. The South African Navy regularly patrols the Mozambique Channel under Operation ‘Copper’, with SAS Drakensberg currently in Mozambique.

The development of the MSS by the SADC was catalysed at the 13th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in 2009 during which the declaration of the need to “to develop a comprehensive and coherent [maritime] strategy” was made. The MSS needs to be revised because the current SADC MSS only addresses the Somali piracy threat.