By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
06 August 2014
Diana Zimbudzana, programme coordinator at the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, has warned SADC leaders against emulating President Mugabe’s controversial empowerment policies, particularly the land grab, which she said has been a disaster.
Zimbudzana said this after foreign affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi indicated recently that Zimbabwe would use the SADC chairmanship, which it assumes next weekend, to promote Mugabe’s empowerment policies. Addressing journalists on the preparations of the forthcoming annual SADC conference Mumbengegwi revealed that this year’s theme was influenced by Zimbabwe.
He said the theme will be: ‘SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value addition.’ He said the theme had been selected ‘very, very carefully because Zimbabwe believes very strongly in the importance of beneficiating and values adding of our natural resources.’
But Zimbudzana said by adopting such a theme SADC was proving that it was dancing to Harare’s tune. She said: ‘It is clear that SADC is pro ZANU PF per se; it is sad that the entire body would see Zimbabwe as an example of how things should be done. We have seen what chaos and poverty land reform has brought.’
However Zimbuzdana said SADC’s move was not surprising because regional leaders have already proven that they regard Mugabe as a ‘father figure’ and ‘a demigod.’ Zimbudzana said it is not the first time for Zimbabwe to impose its will on SADC affairs as Harare also influenced the closure of the SADC-Tribunal, which had ruled in favour of disposed white commercial farmers a few years ago.
She added: ‘The real puzzle is how is it possible that Zimbabwe will have such influence in the region when she is economically weak.’
Zimbuzdana’s comments come after former SADC Executive Secretary, Simba Makoni, said he doubted that the selection of this year’s theme was done procedurally. Makoni said he knows the workings of SADC and the themes of the regional body’s actions were not determined by the incoming Chairman and their year in office but rather there were time themes that drew from broader strategies.
The leader of the Mavambo/Kusile opposition party said as far as he could see this year’s theme was not just influenced but was imposed by ZANU PF.
SADC member states have been repeatedly blamed for not only letting the Zimbabwe crisis get out of hand but also of siding with Mugabe, with the then South African President Thabo Mbeki saying there was ‘no crisis.’ Only Botswana has maintained a strong stance against the ZANU PF regime with President Khama saying his government would no longer participate in the regional body’s observer missions after SADC endorsed Zimbabwe’s controversial poll in 2013.