A statement released by the Directorate of Presidential Communications said the new chairman, President John Magufuli, announced the adoption of the language in his closing remarks at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre.
The lingua franca in East Africa and parts of the central Africa now joins English, French and Portuguese as official languages to be used during engagements within the bloc.
This means Kiswahili becomes the first indigenous language to be used by the bloc as an official language at inter-state level. It is already an official language of the African Union.
The president said the decision is an honour to father of the nation Mwalimu Nyerere who used Kiswahili in the struggle to liberate African countries, as freedom fighters based in Tanzania learned and used the language to fight colonialism, the State House statement noted.
In his speech to welcome the delegates from the 16 member countries on Saturday, President Magufuli appealed to SADC member states to endorse Kiswahili as one of the bloc’s official languages.
“I am appealing to your excellencies to fast track the adoption of Kiswahili to be among official languages in SADC. It is my sincere hope that in doing so you will be convinced…since I see no objection to my request,” the incoming chairman had asserted.
The Bantu language is spoken in Tanzania, Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Mayotte, Mozambique, Oman, Rwanda, Somalia, Uganda, UAE and in some settlements in South Africa and the United States. It is estimated that over 100 million people speak it as a native or second language.
Dr Magufuli said that the summit was fruitful, as among the resolutions made include a call on member countries to implement the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063.
Also, the summit resolved to closely follow up the security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, urged the Kingdom of Lesotho to fast-track legislation of law towards reforms and the formation of the SADC disaster management organ.
“With regards to Burundi’s membership application, the summit has directed the SADC secretariat to inform the country of areas it must improve before its being added to the community and for the sanctions against Zimbabwe, the summit resolved to engage with the international community to lift the sanctions,” the SADC chairman added.