THE dissipating importance of the Zimbabwean political standoff at the African Union must be music to Zanu PF’s ears. For the MDCs it is probably something they wish could be conveniently swept under the carpet or ignored altogether.
Pundits will argue that Zimbabwe could not have been on the agenda of the recently held AU summit because President Zuma of South Africa has not yet tabled a report on Zimbabwe before Sadc, which in turn reports to the AU. This would be fair enough but for the fact that it betrays an increasing lack of urgency both at Sadc and the AU about the GPA.
It would seem, on the face of it, the AU and Sadc are satisfied with the manner in which the power-sharing arrangement in Zimbabwe has turned out. They seem content that they have fulfilled their political mantra of Africans solving African problems and with this, have almost literally moved on, at least at the AU level. At Sadc, the mediators’ report is essentially a formality which will result in the acclamation that it is up to the Zimbabweans to solve their own problems from the full Sadc summit scheduled for August. Where any outstanding issues are raised, they will be determined to be work in progress by the mediator seeing as so much is going on in Zimbabwe at the moment.
They will argue that there is governmental consensus on the issue of the constitutional reform process, diamonds, the fiscal policy review and last but not least on national healing and reconciliation. In short, it would be somewhat misplaced to hope that the Sadc summit will make any particular progress on issues concerning the GPA.
But this does not mean there will be a lack of actors that will try and change this predictable outcome. The MDCs or, in particular, the MDC-T, will try and re-table the issues that have been in vogue since they became part of government. Issues of governors, ambassadors, judges and the media will again be given emphasis. Some regional and domestic civil society organisations will weigh in with the issue of diamonds and the KP process as well as the Sadc tribunal rulings on land. All issues which will be referred back to the Zimbabweans via the principals of the GPA with a vague time table for implementation and or report back.
This sort of prediction I have outlined means that there has to be a new approach to Sadc and the AU by Zimbabwean actors. The first must be a key understanding of the fact that it is not the business of Sadc to literally run Zimbabwe. And because they have the impression that there are limits to which they can intervene, they will no longer take up complaints at face value. They will only take them up after they have gone through some Sadc due process, either through their sub-committees or at least through the Sadc Council of Ministers.
Secondly, the regional solidarity of the heads of state and government instead of being weakened has been fortified by the myriad of regional issues that included the hosting of the World Cup, the new regional and continental excitement over the discovery of oil in central Africa as well as the issue of resistance to the Africa Command, the American-backed standby military force. This solidarity has meant that every time the Zimbabwean GPA has come up for discussion and review, it has become more and more subservient to the above-mentioned issues.
Thirdly, the nature of regional solidarity between civil society organisations has focused more on issues such as indicting heads of states and rebel groups for either war crimes or crimes against humanity. This has meant that more of the regional solidarity between non state actors has sought more to find itself in sync with liberal interventionism based on international human rights instruments that are not necessarily legally or, as in the case of Omar Al Bashir, politically enforceable in either the AU or Sadc. What is then missed is the necessity of prioritising people-to-people solidarity which would bring to account the formal inter-state organisations that are in question.
This would mean a revisiting of the founding premise of some regional civil society organisations such as the Southern African Peoples Solidarity Network or the NGO Forums that turn up a week before either a Sadc or AU summit in a host country.
By Takura Zhangazha