SADC people power unleashed

The Southern African People’s Solidarity Network plans to mobilise 10 million signatures from citizens in 15 SADC countries in a bid to force the regional bloc, the African Union and the United Nations to intervene in Zimbabwe’s unresolved political crisis.

This follows the failure by the SADC Heads of State to address the matter at their meeting in Malawi on August 17. The summit was expected to discuss the flawed July 31 elections and hear submissions by the MDC-T, which claimed it was in possession of evidence showing how Zanu (PF) rigged the polls. The delegation, led by Vice President Thokozani Khupe, was barred from presenting its evidence.

Civil society demonstrations outside the summit in a bid to force the crisis to be put on the agenda were ignored by the regional leaders, who congratulated President Mugabe for winning the elections.

Observers have hailed this as the first people-power initiative. “The people of SADC have never disagreed with their leaders before. This augurs well for democracy in the future. People realise they are being let down by their leaders. SADC seems to be a protection racket for un-democratic leaders,” said one political analyst. Dalisto Kubalasa, the Secretary General for SAPSN, said the political crisis in Zimbabwe should not be left to Zimbabweans alone, hence the need to mobilise 10 million concerned SADC citizens to speak out.

“The campaign will be carried out in all the SADC countries. What we are saying is that the Zimbabwean political debacle should not be swept under the carpet. We should all rise up and ensure the issue is brought on the table. It’s never too late and so the campaign will be kick-started soon because SAPSN has received overwhelming promises of support,” said Kubalasa.

Botswana has promised to gather half of the 10 million signatures from their country alone. Thabani Nyoni, a spokesperson for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, confirmed his organisation was working with SAPSN.

“We are part of the process to mobilise signatures and we are working with SAPSN in that respect. These signatures are going to come from citizens and member organisations in the region, especially organisations that participated at the SADC Annual People’s Summit,” he said. “What is important is that civil society organisations within the region want to put on record their concerns around the precedent that has been set by Zimbabwe, SADC and the AU in terms of holding elections that are below standard and then going on to endorse them. The input of those signatures is to show that we are not impressed by that,” Nyoni added.

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC-T chief spokesperson, said his party would back the civil society initiative. “We will certainly support it although we are not organising it. As the MDC, we think it is a good starting point and should be encouraged.”

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