Why is SADC so scared? Just look at Syria

Picture this - a meeting of SADC takes place in Harare, and issues its first tough communiqué since the grouping was founded in 1992. Among the demands:

• Angola’s MPLA must publish a list of oil revenues and show why, in spite of billions coming in, the people remain among the poorest in Africa.

• Frelimo in Mozambique has to let go its stranglehold of the national broadcaster.

• The South African government gets an earful over its appalling record on youth unemployment, now standing at 50 per cent.

Leading the charge is Zimbabwe’s new government that chased ZANU from power and sent JOC commanders to The Hague for trial. Mugabe died of a heart attack when he heard the news.

Back-up comes from the president of Swaziland who toppled King Mswati III, plus the progressive new leaders in Malawi, Lesotho and the DRC, all of whom have come to power in the past year, marking a switch to real democracy.

Arab League

If you think it could never happen, go to the other end of the continent and look what took place in Morocco on November 16 at a meeting of the Arab League. For decades, the League has been as useless as SADC or the AU, a dictators’ club where they looked after one another and talked about “economic integration” and “cultural ties,” while stealing their countries to a standstill.

No more. Last week, the Arab League condemned Syria for the ongoing murder of demonstrators and said the government in Damascus must "stop the bloody repression" of protesters and allow in teams of observers or they —the League that is — would impose sanctions! Oh yes, and they suspended Syria’s membership until President Bashar al-Assad mends his ways. Say What!?!

This is the toothless organisation founded in 1945 that did nothing when Saddam committed genocide on his Kurdish population, using poison gas to kill at least 50 000, while bulldozers flattened their homes. Huge numbers are still missing.

Ditto in the 1980s when Iran and Iraq were locked in trench warfare that cost the lives of at least 700 000 soldiers.

The League was vocal about events far from home like war in Rhodesia and apartheid in South Africa (while several middle-east countries were trading with Salisbury and buying weapons from Pretoria), and there’s been endless rhetoric against Israel.

Now, suddenly, they are pouncing on their own, but only because so much has changed.

Governments have been overthrown in Tunisa, Egypt and Libya, while Sudan has split in two. Protests have rocked Yemen and Bahrain, and even the hard-line Saudi government is making hasty concessions.

New days, new voices, new leaders, new problems for those like Mr Bashar al-Assad who has banned all opposition parties, and jails or murders his critics. A qualified doctor, he took over power from his late father in 2000 and has ruled ever since without the need for messy things like a democratic election.

Brother Leader

Now, back to SADC. No wonder the members are touchy about old stalwarts like Mugabe being forced from power by a party drawn from the masses, or King Mswati handing Swaziland to the people.

It also explains why they were so quiet about the overthrow of Gaddafi. Mugabe still can’t seem to accept that the “Brother Leader” is no more. The question with revolution is always: Where Next? Tunisia led to Egypt, led to Libya and put the fear of Allah into those who thought they could rule for life.

Better to stay with the Old Boys’ Club, supporting each other and making sure this democracy thing doesn’t get out of hand. No surprise then why Ian Khama has a voice. Botswana is already rich and democratic and has nothing to fear. Change will come, and when it does — as in North Africa and the Middle East — it will likely be contagious. Those who abuse their power should take note.

Post published in: Africa News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *