We are not only concerned by how the statement affects SADC intervention on Zimbabwe but its overall assessment of the situation in the region. Our party always had reservations when Mnangagwa took over the reins of the Troika and the briefing he got from the Secretariat vindicates his mediocrity.
To reduce the crisis in SADC to youth unemployment is not only dishonest but contemptuous, cynical and disrespectful of citizens of SADC whose taxes fund the Secretariat. Public expectation is for the Secretariat to be professional in their advice of the leadership of the region.
There are issues of contested elections in the region, not only in respect of Zimbabwe but as evidenced recently in the DRC, Namibia, Botswana and Malawi. Sadly due to the legitimacy question, the crisis in Zimbabwe is worsening. The economy is in intensive care, with the second-highest inflation in the world after Venezuela, collapsing foreign exchange, increasing budget deficit and ballooning domestic and sovereign debt. Wages have been eroded by both inflation and the exchange rate of the Zimbabwean dollar against other currencies.
Pensions and Health insurance have been rendered useless while industrial capacity utilisation continues to collapse as companies are closing en masse.
There are shortages of electricity, drugs, roller meal, fuel and electricity. Over 8 million citizens are food insecure not only for 2020, an urgent assessment for 2021 is overdue.
The economic situation is just bleak with no solution is in sight. This situation has resulted in massive unemployment not only of young people but across the board and has resulted in millions crossing the border to South Africa and Botswana, among other countries. The spill-over effect is already impacting South Africa, its currency and probably contributes to the junk status. While we are internationalists who advocate for a customs union in Africa, we are cognisant of the fact that migration has to be managed.
Social service delivery has been abandoned, doctors were on strike for over 6 months. The Midlands State University has lecturers on strike, with other institutions of higher learning having had to defer lectures in some faculties and general tuition from primary Schools has gone beyond the reach of many. More importantly Zimbabweans are agitated, for they are suffering and being taxed to fund lifestyles of the political elite.
An implosion is looming. SADC must encourage dialogue and afford Zimbabwean a soft landing and also give Zimbabweans a break from the unpalatable suffering they have endured for decades.
We feel the SADC secretariat is not doing the region any prudent service if it is failing to realize the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe is a serious threat to regional peace and security.