Sadc Deflates Hope for Democratic Reform

THE Southern African Development Community’s (Sadc) predictable stance on Zimbabwe on the just- ended summit held in the Democratic Republic of Congo leaves a lot to be desired.

Despite the calls from the MDC and civic groups to have Zimbabwe tabled at the summit, the guarantor to the troubled coalition government dismissed the Zimbabwean crisis as less pressing.
 The decision not to put Zimbabwe on the agenda of the Kinshasa summit leaves Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF as the victors at the expense of the people of Zimbabwe.  
Mugabe and his party will continue to enjoy the status of a problem child in the absence of a checks and balance system in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement between the three political parties.
Six months after the formation of the coalition government, its full implementation has been stalled by Mugabe’s refusal to reverse the appointment of the Reserve bank Governor and the Attorney General, and swearing in of Roy Bennett as the deputy minister of Agriculture.
Although these are the pressing issues from the Movement of Democratic change’s point of view, as succinctly noted by Irene Petras director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR),  “democratisation remains a challenge”.
Since the formation of the coalition government, no repressive laws have been repealed.
Draconian laws such as the Public Order and Security Act and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act are still intact. The public is starved of objective news and information and left to receive vitriol and Zanu PF propaganda from the state media. The apparatus of violence which manifested during the period preceding the June election period still remains intact. There is no genuine effort towards reforming state institutions.  
The plight of prisoners in state prisons is cause for concern. Zimbabwe Prisons Service is currently operating below the minimal standards set by the United Nations amidst fears that prisoners are dying of starvation, diseases and torture.  
It still remains to be seen if Mugabe and Zanu PF have genuine concerns for the people of Zimbabwe that surpass their narrow partisan interest in this marriage of convenience at a time when Zimbabwe is in need of a visionary leadership. The disruption of the all-stakeholders constitutional convention at the Harare International Conference Centre by Zanu PF thugs is a testimony of party politics at the expense of the nation as a whole.
Foreign aid and investment will remain elusive as long as the government fails to guarantee the rule of law, respect human rights, exercise good governance and honour property rights under bi-lateral agreements with other member states from the region.
The refusal by the Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa to honour the ruling by the Sadc Tribunal in favour of 78 white farmers facing eviction under the chaotic farm invasions set a bad precedent on the part of the Zimbabwean government.
Not only does it further dent the country’s battered image on the failure to uphold the rule of law, but it also undermines the integrity of Sadc as a body in its endeavor to finding solutions to African problems.
What Zanu PF does not understand about the targeted sanctions is that, it is they not the MDC, who need to rebuild a credible brand, convince the world that they have now repented from their oppressive rule and are now sincere about democratic reforms.
Readiness to accept the people’s right to choose leaders of their choice is also a critical pre-requisite in restoring donor confidence.

Restoration of Human Rights
(ROHR) Zimbabwe
www.rohrzimbabwe.org