THE annual Sadc Summit that ended in the DRC on Tuesday was a big betrayal to the people of Zimbabwe as the regional bloc’s leaders once again showed that they were toothless bulldogs.
Instead of taking President Robert Mugabe head on for adamantly refusing to resolve outstanding issues of the global political agreement with his partners in the inclusive government, Sadc even had the guts not to put the country’s crisis on the summit’s agenda.
That the crisis was not on the agenda is quite instructive of how Sadc leaders view Mugabe’s partners in the inclusive government —— Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara. They have no respect for the two.
It is the same regional bloc which in January cajoled Tsvangirai to join the unity government despite resistance from his chief negotiator Tendai Biti and also set out the sticking points of the GPA. But on Monday and Tuesday the leaders did not see it fit to deal with outstanding issues. The bloc even did not honour its commitment to review the GPA after six months.
Biti should be feeling vindicated and telling Morgan: ‘I told you we should not have formed the inclusive government before the outstanding issues were resolved’.
The summit once again showed the true colours of the regional leaders.
For the umpteenth time, they failed the people of Zimbabwe by not taking a strong stance againstÂ Zanu PF’s intransigence and raping of democracy.
They deliberately decided to protect and defend the ageing Mugabe instead of telling him in his face to adhere to the GPA and respect the rule of law, justice and human rights.
Instead of dealing with the deadlock between Mugabe and Tsvangirai on key political appointments and ongoing concerns over human rights abuses, among an array of other issues, the summit called on the international community to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe.
This is an issue the international community said rests on the full consummation of the GPA, which is under threat because of Mugabe and Zanu PF’s intransigence.
It is now crystal clear that Sadc’s call would remain hollow until Mugabe plays ball to the international community’s satisfaction.
Saying the outstanding issues should be dealt with by the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security was not only a betrayal, but a breach of the bloc’s decision during an extraordinary summit in Pretoria in January that the GPA would be reviewed by the bloc after six months.
Despite a clear setback on the aspirations of Zimbabweans to see finality on the outstanding issues, Tsvangirai remained rather unconvincingly optimistic that a resolution to the deadlock on the sticking points would soon be reached.
“Now that the Sadc troika is specifically vested with the matter of Zimbabwe, it is my hope and belief that it will deal with all outstanding issues as a matter of urgency,” he told journalists in Kinshasa.
A few months ago I wrote in this column that Sadc had betrayed the people of Zimbabwe, killed their aspirations and hopes by adopting a velvet-glove approach to the political crisis in the country.
Since the inking of the GPA last year, it became evident that the majority of Sadc leaders were more uncomfortable with Tsvangirai than they are with Mugabe by putting pressure on the premier to join an inclusive government in which he would be a junior partner.
Sadc has failed to provide direction on the litmus test for the restoration of legitimacy.
The Sadc leaders should have been firm on Mugabe by demanding that a resolution be found so that the work to rebuild the country continues in earnest.
There is no need on the part of the Sadc leaders to pull punches.
We hope Sadc leaders will soon come to their senses and see the need to have the outstanding issues resolved.
South Africa Deputy President told his parliament on Wednesday that a special Sadc Summit could take place to help ensure accountability among Zimbabwe’s political protagonists.
“Sadc leadership… has decided that the Sadc secretariat should on an ongoing basis … monitor resolution to all these outstanding issues and that if that does not produce the desired results an extraordinary summit will be convened focusing specifically on ensuring that more fillip is added to the processes of moving Zimbabwe forward,” Motlanthe said.
Let’s hope this will materialise soon.