Friday, 14 September 2007


By Gershom Ndhlovu

Did the last SADC heads of state summit in Lusaka go as well as it has been portrayed? Maybe on other issues it did go as well as the media in the respective countries reported, but certainly, there are questions to be answered on why Zimbabwe President left Lusaka early if not, as foreign media are now saying, that he clashed with the new chairman, Levy Mwanawasa who wanted to table that country’s political and economic crisis during a closed session.
According to the online version of a South Africa newspaper, BusinessDay, quoting diplomats who attended the meeting, Mr Mwanawasa who chaired a session attempted to table for discussion the Zimbabwe crisis after South African President Thabo Mbeki submitted his report as the SADC appointed-mediator in which he said “there was progress in the talks although parties needed to intensify negotiations.”
Says BusinessDay: “"After Mbeki delivered his report to the summit, Mwanawasa, as the chair of the meeting, said there was an urgent need to discuss Zimbabwe because the situation there had become 'unacceptable'. Kikwete said there was no need to discuss it because talks were in progress and Mbeki concurred," a senior diplomat said.
"Kikwete then suggested Mugabe should be asked what he thought about Mwanawasa's proposal. When Mugabe was given the platform to speak he launched an angry tirade, attacking Mwanawasa left, right and centre before walking out in protest."The diplomat said Mugabe angrily asked: "Who are you, Mwanawasa? Who are you? Who do you think you are?""Mugabe also said he was aware of Mwanawasa's recent meetings with western intelligence agencies on Zimbabwe. He said he would 'not allow Mwanawasa to sell out Zimbabwe as he has done to Zambia'," the diplomat said,”
Mr Mwanawasa had earlier in the year referred to Zimbabwe as a “sinking titanic” when the regime in that country battered opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai leaving him with serious injuries for which he was hospitalised.
This is probably the incident that claimed the scalp of Zambia’s Foreign Minister Mundia Sikatana who has been outspoken on a number of issues on the continent such as the Darfur Crisis which he rightly labelled a racial issue and the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis.
The handling of the Zimbabwean crisis by Mbeki and Tanzanian president, Jakaya Kikwete as chairman of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security is what brings into question the setting up of the SADC defence brigade as a laughable exercise because the standing army, if there is one, will not go any where it is needed because of issues of sovereignty that are brought in when it matters even when a purely political solution is needed.
Extrapolated at continental level, NEPAD’s African Peer Review Mechanism or APRM, cannot work for similar reasons because paranoid leaders like Mugabe do not want to subject themselves to scrutiny by other well-meaning leaders like Mwanawasa in this case.
This is why Mugabe keeps on harassing Tsvangirai even for going round the shops to see what mayhem his government is causing not only for ordinary people, but businessmen as well who are forced to sell goods at sub-economic prices.
Leaders like Mbeki and Kikwete need to learn and understand that their approach of quiet diplomacy to issues like Zimbabwe will only entrench dictators like Mugabe and lead to further suffering of the already suffering Zimbabweans.
This is equally why it is next to impossible to bring African countries together for purposes of establishing a United States of Africa because of the different democratic values that different countries hold which they may not only want to impose on others but may not want to relinquish.
Ironically, it is leaders like Mugabe who are keen on establishing the U.S. of Africa and yet they do not want to subject themselves to the authority of a smaller entity like SADC for which they are voluntary members. May be it is time SADC considered the possibility of suspending Zimbabwe’s membership from the sub-regional body.


Zedian said...

Very interesting insight into the just ended and seemingly "successful" SADC conference in Lusaka. And if the quoted diplomat is correct, it's even more interesting to hear that Bob, as my Zim friends refer to their leader, actually told off Levy! That "Who are you, Mwanawasa?" was quite belittling to Levy I think.
Then again, perhaps Bob had a point! Who is Levy indeed? Of course, he's the president of Zambia, but as far the international stage is concerned, who is he? People know more about KK, who left office a good 16 years ago, than about the current Zambian president!
This is important; to have a significant amount of influence on a problem such as Zim, you need clout which Levy is clearly lacking both at home and abroad. In my view, that's a direct result of Levy's weak mandate (having gotten in thru' rigged elections). Even though he won the subsequent elections fair and square, the damage was already done. Moreover, Levy has spent the best part of his tenure fighting for his own political survival within his party to begin with, and at national level. He just hasn't had the time to influence things at all at the international stage, and hence, not many people know him and if anybody does, they don't know what he stands for, or what he's capable of and therefore haven't got that much respect for him. I'm not suggesting Levy should have abandoned home issues to pursue a name abroad, but a balance is required if you know you will be SADC chairman at some stage and be called upon to deal with strong personalities like Bob. Zambia needs strong leadership to handle issues at home and make strong representation for its interests abroad. Levy will now pay for appointing stooges and not strong, charismatic and intelligent leadership to surround him, because they threaten his power.
That's my analysis of it.
Now, on the Zim issue itself, my view is that we should keep their SADC membership because it is a potential diplomatic channel, despite Levy's failure to exploit it. Zim has been thrown out of the Commonwealth which effectively closed that diplomatic channel and now Bob and the UK and Australia (who are seemingly interested in solving the problem), do not see eye to eye.
Only diplomacy (tough diplomacy, that is), will help resolve the situation down there. The rest is upto the people of Zim. It is delusional to even contemplate a military solution or sanctions. If anyone needs evidence I will say Iraq. We ought to remember that it was international diplomacy, and of course huge internal pressure, that changed the course of South Africa. None of those calling for 'military action' or sanctions on Zim ever spoke of doing the same to South Africa! Why Zim? After all, it's a far smaller problem than what apartheid was or Darfour is today!

Unknown said...

Thanks, nice e.
In the diplomatic realm, Rwanda, Uganda and, strangely, DR Congo are more influential than Zambia. I do not know what our Foreign Policy is, if we have one, apart from the humphing and puffing of our head of state when he makes important pronouncements at the Lusaka International Airport that catch even his advisors unawares.
In January I wrote in my column in the National Mirror how Africa was not ready for a U.S. of Africa, six months later most of it was quoted almost verbatim by H.E.L.P Mwanawasa!
Anyway, what do you expect when the Diplomatic Service is populated by the president's relatives as well as party cadres?

Zedian said...

Lo and behold, Levy is now standing up to the 'almighty' UK Prime Minister on the Mugabe issue!
What happened to Levy? He seems to have obtained super guts overnight! Did he read our comments above and now wants to prove his critics wrong? Or perhaps Levy (after reading our comments, possibly), in light of the SADC fiasco, decided that the Summit of African and EU leaders in Portugal would be a better platform to confront Bob, what with all the heavy weights present!
Whatever the case, I applause the Zambian President for this very courageous stance on this extremely dicy and potentially divisive issue. As I said in my previous post, diplomacy is the best way forward on this and closing diplomatic channels with Zim as the UK PM is suggesting, is myopic and retrogressive to the situation. Perhaps Mr Brown should read in between the lines of what Levy has said and allow the Portugal summit to bring Bob to the table.

stanford said...

Mugabe its unfortunate that you so full of double standards , if you are a real man as you claim why do you do an honuorably exist as you have lost election after election , you are such a chicken ,coward ,.you live by the gun you die by the gun . Where is family going to run to when you are gone . IF you are reasonable leader share you wealth with Matebeleland maybe we might forgive you for the artrocities but no i feel you deserve to be hanged . you are a mooron