Tanonoka Joseph Whande
October 25, 2012
Two respected Human Rights groups have, independent of each other, come out with reports critical of the regional grouping, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), pointing out its limited capacity to handle issues it is tasked with solving.
No country has shown SADC’s uselessness and ineptitude like Zimbabwe has.
The lethargic regional group appears uncertain, unsure, unwilling or uninterested in solving problems in this part of the continent.
One only has to look at how old the crisis in Zimbabwe has been running and compare that to deadly problems that erupted elsewhere on the continent but problems that were solved by relevant regional bodies.
I am most impressed by the speed with which the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) moved to stop Laurent Gbagbo, who had once again ignited civil war by refusing to step down in 2010 after losing elections, much as Mugabe did in 2008.
Mugabe has been a nuisance to the region for decades yet SADC has failed to rein him in as Zimbabweans continue to be harassed, abused, beaten up and killed.
It appears to me as if SADC only exists to destroy Zimbabwe through its sheer silence and inactivity.
I find it difficult to understand why a whole region can conspire against one nation for as long as they have done.
Is what is happening in Zimbabwe of no concern to the region, to SADC?
The International Crisis Group (ICG)’s report, titled Implementing Peace and Security Architecture (ll) Southern Africa, says that SADC’s intervention in Zimbabwe’s political crisis exposed its limited capacity to enforce agreements it helps broker.
Of interest to me is the absence, within SADC’s framework, of any punitive measures to be applied against errant member states.
The absence of such measures is a clear indication of political powerlessness.
The ICG report points out that “SADC has failed to effectively deal with the Zimbabwe political gridlock because the bloc’s conflict resolution mechanism depends on heads of state and government and ministerial committees, which are perpetually committed to their own domestic issues”.
“SADC’s intervention in Madagascar and Zimbabwe has exposed the region’s limited capacity to enforce agreements it has brokered,” the report states.
What really is SADC’s purpose if it cannot deal with regional problems?
SADC has never found any sense of urgency when dealing with disasters in the region, especially Zimbabwe.
The deplorable political situation in Zimbabwe, while having been created by forces in and outside Zimbabwe, should never have been allowed to deteriorate to the point it has now come.
And it all happened right under SADC’s nose. They did not intervene but were always busy giving Mugabe standing ovations at their summits as the body count in Zimbabwe continued to climb.
And for this, we have just about everyone to blame, including the likes of Thabo Mbeki, South Africa itself, Jacob Zuma, Robert Mugabe and, more importantly, SADC.
All the players contributed, in one way or other, to the mess Zimbabwe finds itself in due to the so-called Global Political Agreement they signed.
Today, Zimbabwe is faced with a host of interlocking problems so much that no political prescription can provide relief on its own.
There have been summit after summit yet only one summit can come up with a solution that can straighten the mess all at once.
We started with Mugabe refusing to concede power after losing elections in 2008.
That standoff sprouted other problems that grew into major ones in their own right.
Violence and murder of people grew.
Control over the media was tightened.
Selective application of the law became the order of the day.
In 2008, the uniformed forces jumped into the fray and supported Mugabe after he lost the election.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe also published a report of its own, titled Zimbabwe Transition Barometer, which says SADC has lost focus.
“There are indications that SADC’s key interest in Zimbabwe may now merely be the need to restore political stability, without necessarily establishing sustainable democracy foundations,” the report said.
The heart of the matter is that the region is better off without SADC.
SADC long became a conspirator in the murder and abuse of Zimbabweans; in the rape of our country by both Zimbabweans and South Africans.
How can SADC not know what’s right or wrong?
SADC must, of necessity, show maturity and seriousness. How do they continue to ignore what is happening in Zimbabwe and still think they are relevant to the region?
We are better off without SADC.
After the Livingstone summit, SADC had pushed Mugabe into a corner and showed some seriousness, semblances of which Mugabe acknowledged, causing him to backtrack. He became more conciliatory towards SADC itself then, suddenly, SADC backpedalled.
Now SADC is afraid to maintain the pressure on Mugabe, never reacting to the disgusting behaviour of ZANU-PF.
SADC must get serious and stop wasting time while people continue to be killed and abused in Zimbabwe.
They have played their games long enough and should acknowledge the unnecessary deaths caused by their ineptitude and inability to act decisively.
SADC, as usual, has let the people of Zimbabwe down.
Zimbabwe deserves better treatment than this.
ZANU-PF continues to abuse the Zimbabwean people, reigning violence on innocent people.
It has collapsed the rule of law and destroyed the professional army and police we used to have.
SADC cannot continue watching in silence while 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 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.
SADC must start imposing its own resolutions on its member states.
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.
They always say all the right things and then offer no follow up.
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, 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.
SADC must act on its own declarations, implement its own resolutions and reign in its errant member states.
Why are situations in Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho and in the misnamed Democratic Republic of Congo allowed to fester within SADC’s midst?
Other countries in the region might laugh and scorn at Zimbabweans as we complain about how SADC is inadvertently killing our country by its tacit support of Robert Mugabe but they must ask themselves which country is next. Because there is going to be a next one.
SADC cares little about hunger in member states; it worries none about human rights within member states but it protects wayward leaders.
Even when there are natural disasters, SADC is hardly heard about.
They come to life in organizing useless summits, workshops and pointless, unnecessary “get togethers” where dictators are treated as if they own the countries they are ruining.
SADC is setting terrible precedents with Zimbabwe. Whether we accept it or not, Africans in general and Zimbabweans in particular are doomed at the hands of our own leaders, for whom we lost so much blood and sweat to get elected.
SADC is assisting in the abuse and murder of Zimbabweans. SADC is destroying our country.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my compatriots, is the way it is today, Thursday, October 25, 2012.