Beneficiary countries in the ESACD project

The Eastern and Southern Africa Commission on Drugs (ESACD), chaired by His Excellency, former president of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe, is an independent advocacy group championing drug policy reform and capacity building in the East and Southern African region.

The ESACD was convened in 2019 after a series of multi-stakeholder meetings, including with the Global Commission on Drug Policy, who expressed the need for a regional and expert-led initiative to respond to the drug issues in the region.

The East and Southern Africa region faces serious and multifaceted risks arising from illegal drug distribution and use. It has become an established transit and destination corridor for large-scale inter-continental drug flows. Long-standing maritime trafficking channels of opiates from Afghanistan to the eastern and southern African seaboard are recognized as a harmful phenomenon and risk to the region, with drug shipments in route to European and US consumer markets. Illicit synthetic substances such as methamphetamines accompany consignments of heroin along this maritime route. Since the 1990s, South Africa and Mozambique’s shipping ports have become key hubs in the global supply network of South American-produced cocaine.

Many countries in the region have also seen a significant escalation in domestic drug use, partly as a result of these drug supply chains. South Africa, Mozambique, Mauritius, Tanzania and Kenya are ranked as the highest-scoring African countries in the ENACT Africa Organised Crime Index for their heroin markets. Distribution and sale of heroin in the region as well as consumption were considered as factors in determining the Index rankings. Levels of drug use in the Indian Ocean Island states are also of concern. Mauritius and the Seychelles, for example, experience among the highest rates of per-capita heroin use in the world.

These drug-related issues have not been met, however, with a commensurate response across the region. The ESACD was therefore established with the aim of developing local and regional awareness of the problems, engendering public discussions, and engaging with policymakers to discuss new approaches to addressing drug issues.

The aims of the ESACD are to:

  • put forward authoritative recommendations for political and civil society leaders on drug policy reform, informed by analytical research;
  • mobilize public awareness and political commitment around the issue; and
  • promote local and regional capacities to address the drug problem.

The ESACD currently comprises of the following Commissioners:

  • H.E Kgalema Motlanthe, Former President of South Africa
  • H.E Joaquim Chissano, Former President of Mozambique
  • H.E Cassam Uteem, Former President of Mauritius
  • H.E James Michel, Former President of Seychelles
  • Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Honorary Professor of Public Health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Honourable Willy Mutunga, Former Chief Justice/President, Supreme Court of Kenya

The ESACD is implemented under the aegis of the European Union’s Enhancing African Capacity to Respond more Effectively to Transnational Organised Crime (ENACT)  project. ENACT is a consortium partnership between South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies (ISS), the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) and INTERPOL.

The GI-TOC serves as the secretariat of the ESACD, providing administrative and technical support.



2022 / 2025