SADC ineffectiveness and indifference towards oppression and suffering leading region to new wave of armed liberation struggles

If ever there was a speech that could be described as prophetic, it would be the famous "Wind of change" address to the apartheid South Africa parliament on 3 February 1960, made by then British prime minister Harold Macmillan.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

“The wind of change is blowing through this continent, and whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact. We must all accept it as fact, and our national policies must take account of it”.

I always look back and ask myself, “If those colonial leaders on the continent had heeded those most powerful words of wisdom, would we have had to embark on violent and destructive armed struggles, leading to the needless loss of millions of lives?”

The answer to that, I am sure, is quite obvious.

As another popular saying goes, “no one can stop a revolution whose time has come” – thus, when a people have had enough, and can no longer take the abuse, oppression, and suffering at the hands of their tormentors, the only option for them is to resort to desperate measures…most of which are too catastrophic to even contemplate.

That is where a wise leadership is needed – which would be able to listen to the people’s cries, and immediately yield to their demands, before the situation gets out of hand.

Failure of which, can only result in a desperate nation – whose only recourse would be direct engagement with their oppressors.

As I was watching the news these past two days, and witnessing events unfolding in the kingdom of Eswatini (formerly, Swaziland), my heart is aggrieved, and stabbed right to its core, by an excruciating pain, at the sight of a desperate people, who have lost patience with their brutal, tyrannical, and corrupt king, Mswati III, such that, they are willing to lay down their lives – in the face of a ruthless and savage attack by the country’s security forces – in order to reclaim their dignity as humankind.

Yet, in the face of all this mayhem, our own regional body – Southern African Development Community (SADC) is conspicuously silent – as if nothing of significance is taking place within its borders.

My question then is, “What is really the mandate of this organization? What are they waiting for, that will finally spur them into action to quell the potentially explosive situation? Should SADC even be in existence, if they can not attend to such matters of both member state, and regional, importance?”

It is not a secret that the southern African region (as is the continent, as a whole) finds itself back to sixty (60) years ago – when only a minority, and their leaders, rode roughshod over the majority, whilst arrogantly ignoring all their cries of agony and anguish (in spite of a cautionary and very accurate prophetic warning from their ally Macmillan)…leaving a people who were left with no other choice, but to embark on liberation struggles.

Can SADC, honestly tell us that they are unable to perceive what is transpiring, and where all these cries by subjugated and suffering masses – not only in Eswatini, but also in Zimbabwe – have the potential of leading?

If these regional leaders are incapable, or rather unwilling, to play their role, then they need to take a look at what is currently occuring in Mozambique.

As much as the conflict in the Cabo Delgado area can technically not be described as a revolution – since, this is clearly a terrorist incursion – nonetheless, no one can deny that, the huge support, which pushed so many disgruntled youth to join these militants, was largely as a result of the masses’ poverty and suffering, which the corrupt and arrogant Maputo administration chose to turn a blind eye.

In fact, not only the Mozambique leadership, but also SADC, ignored the plight of these suffering and oppressed people, such that, when these terrorists came carrying with them messages of hope and prosperity – especially, from the vast oil resources in the Cabo Delgado region, which the national leadership was enjoying at the expense of local communities – they had no problems finding new zealous recruits.

Today, it is quite laughable that SADC holds endless ineffectual summits, in relation to this conflict – yet, the chance to take any meaningful action was ripe a few years ago, when the people of that area were still only crying, not yet fighting.

Where was SADC then?

As long as this organization continues ignoring the obvious “wind of change” blowing across the region – through Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Eswatini, and other countries, where the people are fed up with continual state-sponsored oppression, injustices, corruption, and impoverishment – then, they are placing us all in peril, since, certainly, these nationals shall not remain placid and docile forever.

There is no stopping a revolution whose time has come, and SADC would better be advised to take immediate serious, visible, and meaningful action, in order to force national  governments to listen to, and respect, the wishes and demands of their own citizens – or else, they have only themselves to blame, should the situation get out of hand.

The colonists were warned by Macmillan, but they did not listen.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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