“The origins of SADC lie in the 1960s and 1970s, when the leaders of majority-ruled countries and national liberation movements coordinated their political, diplomatic and military struggles to bring an end to colonial and white-minority rule in southern Africa. The immediate forerunner of the political and security cooperation leg of today’s SADC was the informal Front Line States (FLS) grouping. It was formed in 1980.” (Wikipdeia)
Today, some 40 years after its birth, the body has become a laughing stock of Africa, failing repeatedly to exercise the authority given to it, and letting the people of Southern Africa down en route.
A summit of SADC members was held recently week in Windhoek, capital of Namibia.
The political crisis and impasse in Zimbabwe was high on the agenda, set for full and frank discussion. As is their usual habit, SADC invited all the African leaders to attend, and Mugabe made doubly sure that the two MDC leaders, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, were precluded from the discussion held about Zimbabwe. He claimed that since neither Tsvangirai nor Mutambara were heads of State, they did not justify attending.
And somehow, even though the Zimbabwe crisis was up for discussion, and the Prime Minister and his Deputy were excluded from the talks, SADC accepted that Mugabe was right.
The summit agreed, with Mugabe’s presence, that they wanted the impasse in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to be worked out within 30 days. They failed also to inform the meeting as to what punitive action would be taken if the issues outstanding were not resolved.
Mugabe has made it very plain to all that care to listen that he and his ZANU PF party would not be giving any further concessions to the unity government until and unless Western sanctions on Zimbabwe are lifted.
He also agreed on the make-up of provincial governors to be sworn in at the end of September but has vowed not to swear in any MDC governors unless sanctions have been lifted.
I have written many times before, that Mugabe is a past master at playing for time. Thirty days is a long time in politics anywhere in the world, but in the hands of an egotistical dictator such as Mugabe, this cannot auger well for future.
Mugabe has made a stance about what he terms ‘illegal economic’ sanctions on Zimbabwe. The West have made their stance over ‘targeted travel’ sanctions on Mugabe and a number of his senior loyalist followers. And the MDC are stuck in the middle.
Even if the MDC were to call for the lifting of restrictive measures on Mugabe and his people, the implementation of the sanctions do not lie at the control of the MDC. That authority lies will the individual government that are participating. Just as Mugabe says that Zimbabwe is a ‘sovereign’ State, so too are the countries whose governments have agree of measures against Mugabe.
And through this demand, Mugabe makes it very difficult for the MDC to become part of and assume the mandate of popular choice.
This is what Mugabe does. He ignores any authority above him, treats tribunal orders with absolute disdain, precludes involved principals from active discussion, and dares the world to stop him.
Two and a half years (almost) after the ‘harmonised’ election in Zimbabwe, the MDC has yet to take office with any authority, whilst Mugabe taunts the regional body into doing nothing whatsoever.
SADC have embarrassed themselves, made a mockery of democracy by pandering to Mugabe and his party, and proved themselves toothless in the face of Mugabe’s politics.
Robb WJ Ellis
The Bearded Man