SADC must come of age in Luanda this week by Tanonoka Joseph Whande

Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Thursday, May 31, 2012

Today in Luanda, SADC is once again meeting over endless issues devilling the region, issues that SADC has always failed to deal with.

Once again, Zimbabwe will grudgingly be the center of attention.
Zimbabwe has presented SADC with its biggest failure since it was born and here is another opportunity for SADC to justify its existence.

It is time to get tough with Robert Mugabe; it is time to get control of the situation and, as a regional block, make it clear to Mugabe to stop the nonsense and tow the line as prescribed by its neighbours.
For a long time now the world and SADC have been very patient with Mugabe who continues to behave as if nothing can be done about him.

And, indeed, nothing seems to be done about him.
Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change, along with the people of Zimbabwe, have shown a great deal of patience and restraint.

We commend them, especially for not retaliating enough to give Mugabe an excuse to decimate our people.
But patience can only be taken so far. Time of turning the other cheek is gone.
SADC must take a stand and never retreat.
Mugabe continues to behave very badly, with his supporters continuously involved in the murder of members of the opposition.

He continues to frustrate the writing of a new constitution and is trying to get the help of some fellow SADC leaders to hold elections this year, with or without a new constitution.
This must never be.

It is my hope that for once, SADC will be emphatic and stop this whole thing and, in addition, push for those necessary changes and safeguards before any elections can be held.
It is important for SADC to close all loopholes and make its position clear.
Elections under prevailing conditions will perpetuate the problem in Zimbabwe and give Mugabe and his people another free reign to abuse the people.

In addition, people like Mugabe must also remember that they cannot always get protection and support from the same people who are propping him up now.
SADC has shown a lot of restraint and patience with Mugabe but it is time to get serious and save the region from being collapsed by an aged dictator who has no vision for the future of this region and who still clings to discredited camaraderies to the disadvantage of both the nation and the region.
Mugabe has caused havoc even on the diplomatic front.

He has continued to abuse the Zimbabwean people, reigning violence on innocent people.
He has collapsed the rule of law and destroyed the professional army and police we used to have.
He has turned our people into beggars and done everything that SADC said should not be done.
He was given a free hand in the running of the country and his fellow regional leaders held back from openly criticizing him.
He paid them back with insults and behaved as if he alone knew what is best for the entire region.
He continues to kill and arrest innocent people.
He continues to grab properties from their legitimate owners.
Instead of appreciating the lifeline thrown to him in the form of the Global Political Agreement, he plays stubborn and refuses to hold up his end of the deal within the GPA, which clearly farvours him and which he signed.
Instead of listening to the people, he increases the use of violence on the people.
This one man has held up progress among nations.
This one man has hogged the limelight for all the wrong reasons.
Mugabe has wasted so much of our time that it really is time something is done about him.
The world cannot continue babysitting an unthankful tyrant who has lost all sense of direction and who is pushing the entire region to the brink.
The SADC Troika and other regional leaders must prevail on Mugabe and resist calls for elections without key reforms.
Violence must, of necessity, end and the writing of a new constitution must be completed.
SADC must warn Mugabe not to interfere with the process but this time, SADC must back up their rhetoric with a bit of muscle and make Mugabe tow the line.
SADC must now show that it has come of age and solve this problem for the region.
They cannot continue being pushed around by one man who killed thousands of his citizens, lost elections and continues killing innocent people.
SADC can no longer afford to let Mugabe retard the progress of democracy in southern Africa.
SADC’s goal “is to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 15 southern African states”.
Is it succeeding on any of these goals?
SADC is faced with a plethora of ills yet I still have to come across one SADC country that can stand up and thank SADC for anything at all.
This is the time for SADC to rescue its tattered image.
I am not the only one who does not put much hope on anything that SADC says but I have no choice but hope for the best at this talking session in Angola.
At the infamous SADC Troika meeting in Zambia, the Summit “noted with grave concern the polarisation of the political environment as characterized by, inter alia, resurgence of violence, arrest and intimidation in Zimbabwe”.
“There must be an immediate end of violence, intimidation, hate speech, harassment, and any other form of action that contradicts the letter and spirit of the unity accord,” the SADC Troika statement said.
Unfortunately, not only that nothing has changed but, in fact, the situation has gotten worse.
And SADC itself has said this so many times before.
The heart of the matter is that SADC must come out of hibernation and start imposing the implementation of its own resolutions.
SADC cannot continue failing to enforce its own regulations and continue to issue communiqué after communiqué.
SADC does not appear to have a mechanism to sanction or punish an errant member.
That must be corrected.
The Luanda Summit must be a road marker where things change and where SADC reinvents itself.
They always say all the right things and then offer no follow up.
I am hoping that, this time around, they will enforce their own imperatives.
SADC must stop imitating the comatose AU and worry about the situation in the region.
We look at SADC as the common denominator among the countries of our region; an organisation that promotes peace and security in our region.
Indeed, SADC’s goal is “to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among (the) 15 southern African states”.
We are all waiting to see SADC meeting its mandate and SADC must thank Zimbabwe for giving it the opportunity to show muscle and seriousness.
We, in Zimbabwe and, indeed in Africa, have suffered enough and we look to such organisations to help us emerge from the devastating treatment meted out on us by our governments who are members of SADC.
The African Union, whose motto is ‘Let us all unite and celebrate together’, forgot to tell us what we are supposed to be celebrating, especially since we spend so much time burying our dead who are murdered by our leaders on a daily basis.
SADC must rise up and show that it can be the best grouping in Africa, caring and protecting its citizens from the excesses of their leaders.
This is a chance for SADC to become legitimate by taking principled stands and following through on its own pronouncements and solve at least one problem in the region.
SADC must act on its own declarations, implement its own resolutions and reign in its errant member states.
Fortunately for SADC, the opportunity exists for it in Zimbabwe.
We are tired of expecting things that don’t happen; we are tired of having our hopes quashed; we are tired of burying our dead while SADC watches.
SADC must come of age in Luanda this week.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, May 31, 2012.

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