By Gershom Ndhlovu
The recent events in the southern African region have clearly showed that the Zambian government now and in the future should carefully choose who its friends should be.
It is clear that President Mwanawasa as the current chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been let down by a number of member countries over the contentious political situation in Zimbabwe.
Both, latent and clear alliances have come to the fore in the manner the regional body has handled the Zimbabwean question.
Whereas a few countries like Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana and Lesotho have exhibited their disapproval of Mugabe’s tactics before and after the March 29 elections and the subsequent run off on June 27, countries like Namibia, Angola, Congo (in its silence over the matter), and Malawi which has “recognised” the Mugabe’s election have, in action and deed, sided with the murderous regime.
It is a well known fact that Namibia, Angola and Zimbabwe helped Congo during the war that involved Rwanda, Uganda and Congolese rebels with the Kabila regime several years ago. These countries have just shifted the alliance to help another ally in this case the Mugabe regime.
Malawi attempted, if it did not succeed, to clear Zimbabwe’s arms on the Chinese ship when it docked in Angola a few months ago. The Malawi government also stands accused of supplying tear-gas to Zimbabwe which was recently attributed to the death of 12 Zimbabwean activists during a protest march.
In a few days before the June 27 election run off, Namibian Defence Force chief, Lieutenant General Martin Shalli was in Harare assuring the government there that Namibia would remain neutral as Mugabe’s government beat, maimed, raped, jailed and killed opposition supporters. This position was later confirmed by President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
South African president Thabo Mbeki’s position on Mugabe and his government is very well known. It is the same South Africa with Russia and China who are opposing tougher sanctions on Mugabe’s government in the United Nations Security Council on which South Africa is one of the 15 countries serving on it.
It is not surprising though that Russia and China are opposing sanctions against Mugabe because their democratic credentials are, in any case, not anything to write home about.
At the time of writing the column, Mugabe was preparing to take his fight to the African Union summit in Cairo this week by saying that only those with clean hands should point a finger at the shambles of an election in Zimbabwe.
Among the countries that have spoken out against the goings on in Zimbabwe include Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana.
As it is, one wonders how SADC leaders will look each other in the eye next time they meet for betraying each other in their support for Mugabe and those who condemned his actions.
This diplomatic fiasco called SADC needs to close shop instead of members pretending to be friends in agriculture and fisheries and other inconsequential fields when they have failed each other on what matters most, the political level.
The Zimbabwe Herald, the government mouthpiece, laughed off the failed troika meeting in Swaziland: "It was a bilateral meeting between two countries, it can never be a troika meeting. Troika means three and the deputy chair cannot call a meeting when the chair is there. Their resolution has no force in respect to SADC, let alone Zimbabwe. The two countries (Tanzania and Swaziland) are only expressing an obligation to the Western world."
Key members of the political, defence and security, Angola as troika chair and Mbeki as mediator, did not attend the meeting.
The SADC charade has badly been exposed. The best thing the members can do is to go their separate ways, turn the beautiful SADC headquarters in Gaborone into a shopping mall and life will continue for us as citizens without our taxes being wasted on the white elephant.
That Zambia has been betrayed in its efforts to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe means that the government should realign itself properly on the international stage.
Zambia could benefit more if it enhanced diplomatic relations with the US, EU, China, Japan, India, Brazil and similar countries and organisations instead of being stuck with a bunch of time-wasters like those in SADC who only follow rules, regulations and protocols when it suits them.