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Right from the start of the troika meeting, Sata appeared determined to indulge in attention-grabbing clowning around when he welcomed President Robert Mugabe with chants like “sekuru, sekuru (old man)”, pamberi ne Zanu PF, pamberi ne Jongwe (forward with Zanu PF, forward with the cock (Zanu PF’s symbol).

Regional leaders and officials who attended the meeting said they were dismayed by Sata’s unstatesmanlike behaviour. South African President Jacob Zuma, Sadc troika chair and facilitator in Zimbabwe, chaired the meeting. Sadc chair, Angola President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was present, including Tanzanian premier Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda.

As the Zimbabwe delegation stood up when Mugabe entered the meeting room Sata, pointing at them, shouted “sekuru, vazukuru vako avo” (old man, there are your young boys and girls).

During the meeting, Sata is said to have made constant interjections, annoying some leaders. At some point Sata shouted Zimbabwean deputy prime minister Mutambara and MDC-N leader Welshman Ncube after their presentations, saying: “I would like to ask these two professors, why are you in this forced marriage? I’m ask a simple thing, why are you in this illegal thing?” Mutambara and Ncube are both professors. Sources said Ncube replied: “No, I will not answer that question because its foundation is incorrect. The agreement is not illegal”.   

After Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Ncube had presented Sata pounced once again, remarking: “We are lucky to have President Dos Santos and President Zuma because the people who are here don’t remember 1963. Where were you in 1963 when we were fighting imperialism?” he asked. “Where were you when Zanu PF was formed?”

On media reforms, Sata said there was no need for media reforms because “if you are a news maker you will always make news anyway!” whether there are reforms or not.

Sata also charged: “Don’t point to fingers at Mugabe because when you point at him three fingers are pointing at you. Don’t blame sekuru here. If you have a younger alternative show us sekuru will retire and then Zuma will retire, Dos Santos will retire but I will not retire because I am only six months into government”!

In response to Tsvangirai’s contribution on Mugabe unilaterally re-appointing the top army and police commanders, Sata retorted: “Where in the world have you seen a situation in which to appoint generals the president must first beg the prime minister?”

Sata dismissed calls for reforms, saying “You people don’t want to go for elections because you don’t have a message. Do you want Mugabe to look for a message for you?  Look for a message for yourselves and go to face the people!”

And after it was agreed that the three parties should fully implement the GPA and complete the constitution-making process before polls, he said: “You Sadc, if you listen to some of these things then you are just replacing colonial masters. Here in Angola they are saying that President Dos Santos is too old and you President Zuma, they say you are also old. Did they apply to be old?”

Sata’s theatrics did not stop there. On concerns raised by Botswana present Ian Khama on the need to keep time for meetings, he blamed Sadc secretariat and Zuma. “No! that secretariat is bogus. They should tell the truth –– it was Zuma who was late”.

Sata’s remarks on women such as Malawian President Joyce Banda whom he described as an “amateur”, Thokozani Khupe, Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga and a lady in the Botswana delegation, infuriated some delegates. Equally infuriating was his call for Sadc to bribe other African countries to vote for South African Home Affairs minister into the AU position.