HomeOpinionSadc should ensure Zim stays on track

Independence ideals in limbo 30 years on

At the core of the Luanda summit was the discussion on how to integrate the three regional economic blocks, namely the East African Community, Comesa as well as Sadc. Regional integration requires shared solutions to political and economic problems. Increasing regional trade and investment is essential to meeting Africa’s social challenges.

The integration of these economic blocs is also crucial in ensuring bigger markets and improving trade amongst member states as well as strengthening Africa’s voice in the broader global economic agenda.

Africa is endowed with vast natural resources, yet it remains the poorest continent in the world –– home to the globe’s poorest billion people. Instead of the resources of the continent being used to develop and transform the lives of its people for the better, they are siphoned overseas. Due to lack of beneficiation and value addition, Africa is losing billions annually.

 

Besides, the resources are being looted and going to waste due to corruption and incompetence by ruling elites. Public resources are also abused to promote patronage and defend entrenched dictatorships. In countries with oil, diamonds, gold, platinum and other valuable resources, the masses remain desperately poor while the rich live in the laps of luxury.

 

Resources which should be used to build crucial infrastructure, including roads, hospitals, schools and dams as well as factories, medicines and food are diverted towards arms, teargas and baton sticks, among other instruments of repression.

Instead of having budgets more attuned to social services provision, huge allocations are given to the army, police and secret services who in most cases serve partisan political agendas, not the national interest.

As a result of the uneven distribution of national resources, Africa has become the hotbed for conflicts exacerbated by disease and famine. However, recent developments, which saw among other things the strengthening of the African Union Peace and Security Council through the establishment of an African standby military brigade, is a step in the right direction.

Equally important is the active role in peace and conflict prevention, especially by blocks like Ecowas.

Sadc, previously seen as a club of dictators, seems to be gradually changing and transforming into a more cohesive and effective organisation. The ongoing democratic transition and consolidation is still work in progress.

The current generation of Sadc leaders is breaking way from the backward-looking culture of revolutionary and fraternal solidarity which thwarted democratic development and expansion. The Zanu PF leadership, still frozen on the liberation struggle paradigm and ethos, has failed to adjust and keep in touch with changes within the region. That is partly why President Robert Mugabe and his loyalists now find themselves rather isolated at Sadc meetings.

When Sadc leaders demanded last week that Zimbabwean parties in the inclusive government should respect and uphold their commitment under the Global Political Agreement (GPA), Zanu PF leaders were left wondering why they are now almost always at odds with their former liberation comrades. Yet it is clearly because of the changes within Sadc and globally, as well as shifting dynamics within Sadc member states themselves.

 

The insistence by Sadc leaders that parties must first implement the GPA in full and adopt reforms within 12 months before elections should therefore not be surprising, although it was a heavy political blow to those within Zanu PF and the security establishment trying to force early elections through the backdoor.

Zanu PF’s strategy of trying to stampede the nation to elections this year without the major reforms, including amendments of electoral laws, completion of the constitution-making process which must come with devolution of power, civil and political freedoms together with freedom of expression, assembly and association, and a reorganisation of the executive, among many other things, which will ensure free and fair elections, must be resisted.

That is why there is so much agitation and anxiety about the outcome of the Luanda summit. Zanu PF’s situation is worsened by Mugabe’s old age and associated complications. Given that Mugabe is the glue keeping the party together, the escalation of factionalism and succession problems is also forcing them to rush to elections as a way of closing ranks and buying more time in power.

The outcome of the Sadc summit is also important as it further shows Mugabe has lost touch with regional and global realities, as well as his grip on the region. It clearly indicates that except for the support of the Clown Prince himself, Zambian President  Michael Sata, Mugabe no longer has credible allies, especially given that Sadc chair Jose Eduardo dos Santos –– the longest-serving leader in the region –– seems to have shifted to South African President Jacob Zuma’s camp. This now explains why Mugabe did not fight after the diplomatic defeat in Luanda.

If he chooses to defy Sadc and push himself further into isolation by calling for elections unilaterally, that will be his quick way out.

What is further complicating things for Mugabe is that Zanu PF is also seriously divided, not only on succession, but also on issues like elections. There is strong resistance to elections within Zanu PF itself. Hence the likely bhora musango (sabotage) approach will undermine Mugabe in the next elections as it did in 2008.

While Mugabe has been subdued after Luanda, some Zanu PF elements have been desperately clutching at straws after the collapse of their election plans through misrepresentations and inept propaganda which have no takers.

This leaves us asking who is fooling who? In fact, the old saying “you can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time” aptly captures what is happening in Zimbabwe now.

Spurious claims like saying the GPA expired after two years and strange arguments like the country must hold elections this year to clear next year for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly conference in August, for instance, won’t fly.

Then there is the dubious claim that the lifespan of parliament ends in March next year when it is clear the duration  of parliament starts the day the president iss sworn in, in this case June 29 2008, and expires five years later. There is also a provision in the constitution that elections must be held within four months after the expiration of the harmonised terms of the president and parliament, meaning legally the last day for elections is possibly October 29 2013.

So there is time to fully implement the GPA and adopt reforms, including coming up with a new constitution, before the next elections. This is the context in which Sadc leaders in Luanda made their resolutions on Zimbabwe. Regional integration should be tied to democratic imperatives. As such Sadc should keep Zimbabwe on track during transition from dictatorship to democracy via free and fair elections.

Moyo is the director of policy and research coordination in the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube. Email:   mdcpolicyguru@yahoo.co.uk

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