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Pamhidzai H. Bamu and Rutendo Mudarikwa

The Southern African Development Community region (SADC) has seen a trend toward applying Alternative Dispute Settlement (ADR) systems to labour disputes. This chapter first looks at the social and human rights dimensions of SADC, highlighting its history, its character and some of the controversies surrounding the notion of SADC supra-nationalism. The second section describes the actors in the harmonization process, underlying causes and the driving forces, highlighting the limited role played by SADC in driving the adoption and harmonization of ADR systems in the region. Instead, the ILO, South Africa, and local initiatives have been the key drivers of labour law reform in the context of its activities to improve labour law and promote decent work. This section also explains the form and content of the labour dispute settlement within selected SADC states, specifically the status, jurisdiction, timelines, procedures, enforceability, and costs of the respective systems. The fourth section provides an evaluation of the performance of the labour ADR systems in SADC. The fifth section considers the strengths and weaknesses of regionalism in SADC. On the whole, the adoption of labour ADR systems in SADC States represents an improvement over the resolution of labour disputes through litigation. But the assumption that access to resources is the only determinant of the success or failure of ADR systems appears to be overly simplistic, and the legal provisions governing ADR and the imperatives to provide speedy dispute resolution also risk resulting in unintended consequences.