SADC flouting own rules to secure Mugabe’s power

The SADC regional leadership stands accused of flouting its own rules and principles to help Robert Mugabe maintain power in Zimbabwe, at the expense of the rights of citizens.

Mugabe has been heartily welcomed back into the fold by SADC leaders, following his disputed electoral victory during the July 31st poll, with the region endorsing his win and calling for acceptance of the election result.

This is despite growing evidence of widespread voter intimidation, voter fraud and manipulation. Civic groups have said that nearly 2,000 total breaches of SADC’s principles and guidelines, governing democratic elections, were documented during the July poll.

But none of this has stopped SADC from embracing Mugabe and at a regional summit in Malawi last weekend, SADC leaders made it clear that their loyalty to Mugabe is unwavering, breaking into applause and cheering him on during a summit address.

Their support has gone even further, with the leadership ignoring their own rules in choosing a Chairman of the grouping and electing Mugabe as the incoming Chair. He will take over from the current Chair, Malawian Leader Joyce Banda, at the next annual SADC leaders’ summit set to take place in Zimbabwe next March.

Mugabe will be 90 years old when this happens.

SADC’s outgoing executive secretary, Tomaz Salomao, was quoted by the Business Day newspaper saying that there was nothing surprising about Mugabe’s election to succeed Banda next year.

"There is an alphabetical roster for the chairmanship, according to a country’s name," he said.

But as Business Day reported: “The formula to explain the jump from M for Malawi to Z for Zimbabwe, scaling many other member states, was not immediately clear.”

SADC is now facing criticism for its endorsement of Mugabe, which some observers have said was ‘predetermined’. Political analyst Clifford Mashiri told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that SADC has been “playing politics while protecting their national interests,” and the leadership bloc was never going to shun Mugabe.

“This shows the hypocrisy of SADC but it shouldn’t surprise anyone. SADC has always bowed to pressure from Mugabe, like they did when they suspended the SADC Tribunal,” Mashiri explained.

The human rights Tribunal was suspended after it ruled against Mugabe in a landmark case that pitted former commercial farmers against the ZANU PF leader. The farmers, targeted during the land grab campaign, won the case in 2008 and the Mugabe government was ordered to pay compensation and offer further protection to the farming community.

This never happened and Mugabe and his government were found to be in contempt of the regional court. However, instead of taking the Zimbabwe government to task for this contempt, SADC instead suspended the Tribunal.

Meanwhile Kerry Kennedy, the president of the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in the US, said last week that “instead of applying its own standards to reach a conclusive and even-handed judgment, SADC has undermined the prospects of democracy in Zimbabwe but also for the region.”

With important elections coming up in South Africa, Malawi, Namibia and, most worryingly, Mozambique, which is currently experiencing serious political strife, this is no time for SADC to stand idly by or blindly to disregard its own guiding principles,” Kennedy said.

She added: “The onus is on SADC to live up to its own standards of fairness and to guarantee that the principles of justice and democracy thrive in Zimbabwe and the region.” – SW Radio Africa

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