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Sadc challenged to tackle Zim crisis

Dumisani Muleya

AMNESTY International has called on Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders meeting in Tanzania on Monday for their annual summit to urgently tackle the Zim

babwe crisis.

The international human rights watchdog said Sadc leaders should confront the crisis whose contagion is poisoning political relations and damaging economies in the region.

Amnesty wrote a letter to South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is involved in efforts to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis, incoming Sadc chair President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, outgoing chair President Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and chairman of the Sadc organ on politics, defence and security, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, urging them to ensure Sadc dealt with the crisis in Zimbabwe. Chissano was in the country last week to assess the situation.

However, Sadc leaders, who last confronted the Zimbabwe crisis head-on during their 2001 summit in Blantyre, Malawi are likely to dodge the problem again.

Sadc executive secretary Prega Ramsamy has already indicated that the Zimbabwe issue will not feature during the Dar es Salaam meeting starting on August 25. Addressing journalists this week in Tanzania’s commercial capital where the summit will be held, Ramsamy claimed the organ on politics, defence and security was dealing with the problem.

South Africa is said to be spearheading efforts to ensure Zimbabwe is not discussed in public gatherings in line with its ineffective “quiet diplomacy”.

It is understood Pretoria – which is now flexing its muscle across the continent – suppressed the Zimbabwe issue during the African Union summit in Maputo last month. There is speculation that it will also prevent the Zimbabwe question being discussed at the Commonwealth meeting in Nigeria in December.

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