What will Thabo tell SADC?

John Makumbe
So, what is South African President, Thabo Mbeki, going to tell the SADC leaders in Lusaka this week about his mediation efforts in Zimbabwe? From the outside looking in, we know that of the three major mediation meetings so far held in S A, the dictator's party, Zanu (PF), missed tw

o. We also know that Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche missed the second or third meeting after the bungling Joint Operations Committee (or is it Command) expressed its disgust at the agenda that the two major political parties were reported to have agreed on.
Of course Mbeki is not going to tell this to the SADC leaders. Indeed, soon after that botched meeting, South Africa claimed that Zanu (PF) had apologised that the scheduled meeting had clashed with their own critical meetings in Zimbabwe. This was baloney, of course, since such meetings could easily have proceeded without both Chinamasa and Goche.
Mbeki is very likely to paint a bright picture of “good progress” having been made since the March SADC summit in Tanzania. He is likely to report that both political parties had been co-operative and cordial, and that serious negotiations are currently in progress. Mbeki is unlikely to inform the SADC leaders that no real negotiations have as yet begun, and that the agreed agenda is now strongly in dispute because it includes the item “Constitutional reforms”, something Robert Mugabe has unilaterally declared as “non-negotiable”.
Clever Mbeki has, however, quickly realised that his progress report to the SADC leaders is wafer thin, and has now invited civil society leaders to S A for talks on the mediation process. It is obvious that the civic leaders are going to demand that the mediation process be both transparent and all-inclusive. Mbeki is likely to argue that his mandate from the SADC leaders restricts him to mediating between the MDC and Zanu (PF) only. He will probably tell the civic leaders that he will need to take their request back to the SADC leaders for an amended mandate.
Whereas the MDC will find this approach acceptable, Zanu (PF) is likely to resist this change, as it is fully aware that practically all the civic leaders are strenuously opposed to its ruinous rule. Indeed, Mugabe will be petrified about a transparent and all-inclusive transitional process because such a process will seriously expose him as the spoiler in the whole mediation process.
If Mbeki wants to be honest with the SADC leaders he should simply tell them that little or no progress has been made to date, and that the crisis in Zimbabwe continues to worsen with the dictator destroying everything that even remotely helps Zimbabweans to live some form of reasonable life.
He should tell them that since they last met, most of the retail shops, wholesalers and factories have been looted clean and empty as a result of Mugabe’s misdirected economic policies. He should inform the SADC leaders that most Zimbabweans are now going hungry as there is virtually nothing for them to buy and eat, no electricity, no water, no milk, no meat. He should tell them that Zimbabwe is slowly but steadily grinding to a halt. Zimbabweans, Mbeki should disclose, are fleeing from their own country in hundreds, if not thousands, every day.
At the end of it all there is likely to be little promise of a new direction as a result of the Lusaka SADC summit this week. The onus is still on us to liberate ourselves from the enslaving authoritarian regime of Zanu (PF). Regime change is inevitable if this nation is to survive.

Post published in: Opinions

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