Friday, 13 June 2008

SADC SADLY MICKEY MOUSE

By Gershom Ndhlovu

Is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) overwhelmed by events in some of its member countries such as Zimbabwe which is failing to respect the organisation's rules, regulations, protocols and resolutions of its organs and the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa?

Does SADC still have a future if the above events in some of its member country are anything to go by?

Some SADC member countries seem to be supporting the current political system in Zimbabwe where whoever opposes President Robert Mugabe is beaten senseless and the unfortunate ones are even killed. Efforts of forward looking leaders in the regional grouping are looked down upon and such leaders, like the current chairman, Levy Mwanawasa, are being accused of being bought by the West.

Leading this onslaught on Mwanawasa is the Zimbabwean leadership which itself has issues with Britain and the USA while Zambia does not have any problems with the two countries which have been pushing for democratic change in that country.

If the rumour that Mwanawasa threatened to resign as SADC chair as SADC chairman when he was apparently snubbed by other SADC leaders at the TICAD IV gathering in Japan, I would actually urge him to go all the way and pull Zambia out of the regional grouping because continuing membership in the organisation is reducing Zambia to belonging to a "Mickey Mouse" club where rules do not apply at all.

Zambia could still contribute to the community of nations through the AU even though a lot needs to be done even there as well.

Zambia and other peace loving and democratic countries have been let down by tyrants and those propping them who are themselves not very democratic at all. Of course people elsewhere will point to disputed elections in Zambia, but the country does not witness state sponsored savagery such as has been unleashed in Zimbabwe by a click of people that wants to cling to power even after they have been rejected by the very people they claim to be serving even if it means grinding them into dust.

Granted, Zambia's democracy is not perfect but it is by far better than in other SADC member countries where people are "cleansed" for voting against certain leaders who think they occupy those positions by divine right.

On the other hand, the xenophobic attacks in which several people have lost lives in various parts of South Africa shows that the concept of SADC has not permeated to the grassroots in the member countries where people feel, and rightly so, that this grouping, just like the African Union, is more of an occasional gathering of leaders where they feast on champagne and caviar when their people are grappling with the basics of life.

If my memory serves me right, Foreign Minister Kabinga Pande sometime back issued a statement to the effect that Zambia's foreign policy would be dictated by economic rather than political expediency.

Following on that statement, Zambia needs to review its diplomatic relations not only with individual countries, but even with international organisations which do not add value to Zambia belonging to them.

Zambia can instead enter into strategic economic alliances with individual countries it shares ideals with instead of an omnibus arrangement like is the case with SADC.

If Zambian nationals will feel insecure of not only travelling to certain countries, let alone living therein, Zambians should not pretend to be happy being in membership with those countries belonging to organisations that pretend to be working for the good of citizens of all member countries when, in fact, not.

South Africa as the most economically powerful member of the SADC has let other countries down, first by failing the people of Zimbabwe through its role as mediator in the Zimbabwean crisis where President Mbeki has not been as resolute as has been expected of him, and secondly by its citizens beating the hell out of foreigners.

In fact it took a newspaper to force President Thabo Mbeki to issue a half-hearted apology when it asked him to step down because of failing to provide leadership to all the South Africans.

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Chiefs are supposed to be non-partisan in their conduct particularly on issues of elections. It is surprising that some Eastern Province chiefs and headmen have found themselves in the political fray for the Milanzi by-election. 

These traditional leaders should bear in mind that the people they lead belong to different parties and, if they came out like Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi who is said to have endorsed the MMD candidate Reuben Chisanga Banda and Senior Chief Nzamane and the 29 village headmen who protested apparently for not have been consulted, they are bound to be misunderstood.

In fact, this could breed indiscipline between traditional leaders and their subjects as they would quarrel over their differences of political choice.

The question that begs an answer is that did all other parties consult the traditional leaders on the candidates contesting on their tickets which would be fair, or is it that it does not matter who the opposition candidates are because the other parties do not have the proverbial carrot to attract them with?

As a subject of Gawa Undi on my maternal Chewa side and Nzamane on my paternal Nguni heritage, I would love to sit down with them, discuss matters involving their subjects in particular and Zambians at large while waiting for their subjects to vote for whichever candidate they think would represent their interests best whether from the MMD, FDD, PF, UPND, or the APC, rather than arm-twisting them to vote for a particular candidate.

Who does not know the challenges that the people of Eastern Province face like the poor road network and general underdevelopment?

The two chiefs should be engaging government to take electricity to the M'gubudu and Chiparamba areas which have great agricultural potential instead of just politicking on by-election candidates.  

I believe Senior Chief Nzamane should be feeling embarrassed for being "ticked off" publicly by MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba for expressing his partisan views on the MMD candidate.

3 comments:

Zedian said...

Is it time then for the AU to step to the front and take the lead from SADC to deal with Mugabe? Bob does not have any respect for a SADC led by Levy, as we've heard before. But why? Well, Levy himself has not made enough (powerful) friends in the region to have created a credible power bloc within SADC. As I've said before, Levy seems to be aligned with the weaker side, while Mugabe is supported by the more powerful bloc. The situation in Zim is now requires stern action, and SADC isn't about to do much.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, another Mozambican man has been burned alive, after being robbed by gutless South African thugs. Where is Mandela and Tutu? Surely they know what sacrifice the Mozambicans, Zambians, and Zimbabweans made to have gotten rid of apartheid.

MrK said...

Gershom,

The two chiefs should be engaging government to take electricity to the M'gubudu and Chiparamba areas which have great agricultural potential instead of just politicking on by-election candidates.

Aren't there other ways to generate development in the area, other than engaging government?

I was thinking that there might be funds available internationally for agricultural development, reforrestation, etc.

I haven't been there, what is your personal opinion of the area?

Gershom said...

The two areas lie between Chipata and Lundazi. A lot of tobacco, maize and groundnuts are grown in the area. M'gubudu shares a border with the Kasungu area of Malawi while Chiparamba slopes towards the Luangwa Valley. The accessibility of the two areas, about 60 km from Chipata, is as poor as the whole length of the road to Lundazi. In simple terms, that area could be the "Chisamba" of Eastern Province if it had electricity, good roads and the like.