“SADC meeting fails to protect democracy and human rights”

i-font-family: Arial-BoldMT; mso-bidi-font-family: ‘Times New Roman'”>STATEMENT BY JOE SEREMANE MP


Once again South Africa and the SADC have been taken hostage by President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

Instead of taking action on the massive human rights violations in Zimbabwe, the SADC leaders decided to call for a lowering of sanctions in what could possibly be interpreted as open support of the Mugabe regime.

The leaders at the summit should have called for smart sanctions against President Mugabe, his wife and members of his government, such as a travel ban within the SADC, and the freezing of all their externally held assets. This call should have been led by President Mbeki, as an acknowledgment of the vicious poverty, deprivation and human rights abuses that the people of Zimbabwe are suffering as a direct result of the actions of President Mugabe and his government’s policies.

Calling on President Mbeki to be the mediator between Zanu-PF and the MDC is pointless. President Mbeki has already been called upon to be the point-man in negotiations in Zimbabwe, and he has achieved nothing. This is because President Mbeki’s policy choices with regard to Zimbabwe are fundamentally flawed. If they were not flawed the situation there would have improved. It has not.

The problem is the process, not the individuals running it.

The policy of quiet diplomacy has failed, and it will continue to fail in the future. Only real action, such as condemning the attacks on the MDC, smart sanctions and a tough government and SADC line on President Mugabe’s actions in his country, will work.

Furthermore, no mention was made of the attacks on the democratically elected opposition party members, who were assaulted by government forces. The fact that this was not addressed at all is a further indictment of the SADC meeting.

Instead of condemning the human rights abuses and the shameful state of democracy in Zimbabwe, the leaders of the SADC put out a statement stressing that “the extraordinary summit reaffirms their solidarity with the government and the people of Zimbabwe”.

This sentence is highly revealing because the people of Zimbabwe are effectively at war with their government; they are not one and the same. This suggests that the Zimbabwean government and its president behaved in a legitimate manner. This is totally unacceptable. It is a reminder of the lack of political backbone in both our country’s President and the leaders in the SADC.

History will severely judge all the leaders who show solidarity with President Mugabe and Zanu-PF at the expense of the basic human rights of ordinary Zimbabweans. Those who deny rights to others should face the full consequences of their actions. It is an indictment of the Zimbabwean leadership that those who were meant to protect democracy turned out to be the ones who damaged democracy the most.

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