Mugabe to surrender SADC chairmanship

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe will hand over the one-year chairmanship of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to the brash Botswana President Ian Khama next Monday, in a move described by analysts as giving the bloc some long-sought teeth to reject dictatorship, rights abuses and electoral fraud in the sub-region.

Regional leaders will hand the rotating chair to the brutally-honest Khama, 62, from Zimbabwe’s globetrotting and controversial 91-year-old president at the 35th Sadc summit of heads of State and Government in Botswana’s capital, Gaborone — two years after the regional bloc controversially endorsed the outcome of disputed elections in Zimbabwe that extended Mugabe’s rule by another five years.

The run-up to this year’s Sadc summit has been marked by diplomatic efforts to defuse a deep crisis in the French colony of Madagascar where parliamentarians were blocked by the Constitutional Court in June from voting to impeach President Hery Rajaonarimampianina and in Lesotho where a former army chief and key ally of Lesotho’s former leader Thomas Thabane, who is a bitter rival of current army chief Tlali Kamoli, was shot dead in May, sparking instability in the small mountainous kingdom.

Mugabe, who as Sadc chair has failed to ease tensions in Lesotho, has said he is “very concerned” about the latest developments there, as fears mount that the country might plunge into renewed political violence after Thabane lost a tight election in March to current Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili — who promptly reinstated his sacked ally as leader of the armed forces.

Also in July, President Rajaonarimampianina rushed to meet Mugabe at State House in Harare after parliamentarians moved to dismiss him as the Island’s leader for alleged constitutional violations and what they called “general incompetence”.

Speaking on his hectic tenure as Sadc and AU chairperson — which ends next January — Mugabe told his ruling party’s central committee last weekend that African leaders have refused to recognise his leadership on the regional bodies, allegedly at the prodding of the French and British government.

It was not clear if Mugabe was talking about his failed mediation in the French colony of Madagascar, but said as AU chairman, he was blocked from Ivory Coast, another former French colony, after President Alassane Ouattara — a key ally of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai — blocked his entry into the West African country after the nonagenarian’s plane landed at the airport.

Mugabe did not state when exactly he was snubbed from Ivory Coast, which goes for presidential polls on October 25, after recording rapid post-war economic revival that has seen the economy record some of the continent’s highest growth rates under Ouattara, 73.

“The French are saying that Mugabe is a dangerous man and don’t work with him,” the 91-year-old Zimbabwean leader told his central committee in Harare. Britain is also trying to exert the same influence, Mugabe added.

The retired general Khama, 62, born to a white mother in the English village of Ewell in Surrey and Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana’s first post-independence leader; is stepping in as Sadc chairman to deal with the festering Madagascar and Lesotho crisis that has vexed Mugabe and South Africa President Jacob Zuma, who is the chairperson of the Sadc organ on politics, defence and security co-operation.

Khama, who is constitutionally obliged to step down as Botswana president in 2018, is one of the few African leaders who has stood up to dictators in the sub-region, and seemingly escaped the “resource curse”, as Botswana’s diamond wealth is converted into generous social welfare.

Khama, who remains single, will head the bloc — founded 35 years ago — over the next 12 months and will host all meetings of the regional bloc over the next year, including at the heads of State level, extraordinary summits and meetings of the Council of Ministers.

He has emerged as one of Mugabe’s harshest critics in Africa. Mugabe’s government has accused Khama of “interference” and scoffed at his call for fresh elections after the contested 2013 vote as an “act of extreme provocation”.

The two-day summit at the Sadc head office in the scenic Gaborone CBD, is expected to be attended by 15 presidents, including Mugabe.

Analysts said it will be “business unusual” at Sadc under Khama — a tough-talking certified pilot, former army commander and fitness fanatic.

“I am confident with Khama there will be a lot of changes,” Afghanistan-based development expert Maxwell Saungweme told the Daily News yesterday.

“I expect him to deal seriously with issues of human rights, gay rights included, and corruption unlike what Mugabe has been doing.

“I also expect Khama to have a better economic agenda for the region.”

As Sadc chairman, Mugabe has championed an industrialisation strategy to increase foreign direct investment into the Sadc sub-region under a long-term strategy anchored on value addition and beneficiation of natural resources.

Piers Pigou, southern Africa project director for the international conflict prevention organisation, International Crisis group, told the Daily News that while Mugabe has really put his public weight behind the regional industrialisation policy, the on-going problems in the Zimbabwean economy and his policies are evidently not attractive to regional leaders as they have not been emulated.

“As such, Mugabe and his tenure at the helm of Sadc has done little to develop Sadc’s vision of economic transformation,” Pigou said.

“It is unlikely this will surprise most analysts and commentators who will have retained low expectations of progress in this regard.”

Saungweme said, “evidence in Zimbabwe is foolproof and points that Mugabe failed dismally in economic transformation in his small country.”

“Zimbabwe’s economic situation can be best be described as chaotic and deteriorating,” he said.

“The economy is dying. If he (Mugabe) never had a proper vision for economic transformation for his own country, how does one see his so-called vision for economic transformation for Sadc? Charity begins at home. If you have no vision for your home, do you think people will understand your lip-service to a vision for economic transformation of a regional bloc, seriously?”

Stephen Chan, professor of world politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, told the Daily News: “I think president Mugabe accomplished very little in his time as chairman of Sadc.”

While Mugabe’s valedictory Sadc chair was widely seen as a ploy by regional leaders to coax him to hand over power to a successor, Pigou said it was never clear if and how Mugabe’s tenure at Sadc’s helm would relate to domestic reform or the succession imperatives that continue to percolate.

“Obviously, during this period, we have witnessed the removal of Joice Mujuru and the apparent elevation of ED (Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa as vice president), but most agree an absence of clarity on succession, as evidenced by the secrecy around Zanu PF’s own ‘rule book’ — its constitution, leaves this issue very much up in the air,” he said.

“Sadc was never going to be a vehicle for such matters, especially as Mugabe’s tenure reinforced the regional bodies’ disengagement from the situation in Zimbabwe, under pretence that the 2013 elections provided a legitimating platform for Zimbabwe’s recovery.”

The Sadc’s observer mission for the July 31, 2013 Zimbabwe elections judged the vote as free, but withheld their verdict on the poll’s fairness, amid opposition accusations of outright electoral fraud.

Pigou said unlike Madagascar and Lesotho where Sadc continues to point at reform deficits, “the region is silent on Zimbabwe’s reform deficit”.

“Many questions remained unanswered — where one might ask, (where) is Sadc’s final 2013 election report? — but now not only the answers, but also many of the questions remain buried.”

Saungweme said Botswana, the world’s largest diamond producer with a stable outlook, expecting a budget surplus this year and to expand economic growth by 4,9 percent in 2015, was a model of a fast-growing economy in the sub-region, in Africa and the world.

“You definitely expect a better economic vision from a (Botswana) president whose country is moving on a progressive and successful economic path,” Saungweme said.


Comments (26)

This article is revolting. Busy praising Khama. Who will praise your own? Why are you so full of self hate?

godfrey gudo - 12 August 2015

Godfrey Gudo is Khama not a fellow African?

Thinking Man - 12 August 2015

Gudo igudo chete - rinofunga segudo. Gudo ringopururudzira rimwe raro chero rikapazhira muchikafu. No wonder, that what Gudo is asking everyone to do here - hanzi pururudzayi benzi richimamira mundiro just because rine Zimbabwean totem (Gushungo). Nonsense!

mapingu - 12 August 2015

i cannot believe there is anyone that has not heard or seen a counry become a failed state without seen a war in three dacades. A country without a single road that can measure 10 m etres long that has no port hole hows that for for freedom bullshit if you ask me

hloni - 12 August 2015

Taura hako Mapingu Gudo iGudo for sure.

JOHN KATYORA - 12 August 2015

Kwatara is right and all those leaders who are not recognising Bob. Its an open secret that he is not the legitimate president. Mutasa told us that THEY rigged. Even all the blind saw that THEY rigged including those other leaders like Khama. In fact , in the central committee meeting, he should have told that bunch of useless cadres that ' guys, everyone knows that we rigged, lets quit' Gudo, chinja maitiro iwe.

piaget - 12 August 2015

It must be painful for R.G because after the Bostwana meeting he will never be the SDCC chairman in his life again.

X-MAN IV - 12 August 2015

ko tichapera kudzingwa gore rino.ZANU TO CUT JOBS BY TWO MILION?This was their manifesto? Tsvangirai uripi sunungura vanhu tasungirirwa.

zvogodii makairasa - 12 August 2015

The chairmanship was not his in the first place. Zimbabwe is the chairman of SADC not the limping goblin.

Mutirowafanza - 13 August 2015

at least there will be no rigging to go with the insatiable desire to remain in office after the not so progressive one year tenure. There is no way Mugabe's tenure was going to be a successful one when back home nothing points in the direction of success. You can only congratulate someone on the basis of their success not failure. Khama has proved to be one of a kind who doesn't tolerate nonsense.

pride - 13 August 2015

Charity bigins at home if he can't control his child how can he control the country , hope Khama will lead SADC to push for the reforms since SADC is the guarantor , Mugabe has done nothing as the block's chairman except flying chete . He is too old so what can we expect from Sekuru . I wonder that GUDO is living Gudo iGudo chete and you are Gudo .

Mudhara - 13 August 2015

You know when all is said and done each one of us is given a choice in life: we can choose life or we can choose death. We can choose the broad road that leads to destruction or the narrow one that leads to life. When RGM became PM and then President of Zimbabwe he had a choice. I believe that Robert Mugabe, had he chosen the right road to walk, could have been one of the worlds great leaders. sadly he chose the road of bitterness, unforgiveness and many bad destructive policies. It is never too late to turn back and do the right thing until it IS too late. If RGM would graciously step down, call new free and fresh elections and ask his nation for forgiveness he would go a very long way to redeeming himself and leaving behind a legacy. But it will take a very big man to do that but it will be worth it. very worth it. It will set Zimbabwe on the road to restoration. its not too late but time is running short!

TruthBTold - 13 August 2015

Arume kamdara kakura aka ,ukawona skin yekumeso yakuinga kunge foreskin mmmm zvanyanya izvi

Paul Mzeleza - 13 August 2015

Even though President Mugabe likes to jet around the world masquerading as Africa's foremost intellectual possessed with great leadership skills, he is in actual fact guilty of gross human rights abuse including genocide, ethnic cleansing, eliminating opposition, stealing elections, ruining a once vibrant and highly productive economy and creating 90% unemployment? Nominating him to the chair of both the AU and SADC bears testimony to the undeniable fact that both these organizations wholeheartedly approve this style of dictatorship? President Alassane Quattara of Cote d'Ivoire is an intelligent and strong leader, someone with principles who refused to sign that GNU agreement offered by former President Mbeki. I am therefore not at all surprised that he snubbed Mugabe. He earns my respect for doing so - one of the few African leaders ready to stand up for what is right.

Spokes Mutoko - 13 August 2015

Who in his normal and sober senses expected Mugabe to succeed in SADC when he has faild in Zimbabwe?

mahlahla - 13 August 2015

The SADC chairmanship operates on the principles of a relay race. Yes sometimes some runners may do better than others but the team is assessed as a team. For SADC it would be very difficult to judge performance of individual players. Right now the incoming Chairman will go on to implement what his predecessor left behind and he in turn will hand over to the next Chairman this time next year. In all fairness the success or failure of SADC cannot be thrown at one individual. This explains why there are five year, ten and twenty year review period dates set for respective plans. Together as SADC countries we win or fail on our goals. It will be a tragedy for SADC if some players deliberately thwart progress because they dislike the current Chairman. It would be a tragedy if all players fail to take remedial action if that truant behaviour is noted. As far as I know SADC has a roadmap of development. It has a fulltime secretariat who ensures that the body functions as planned. A regional body cannot be nationalised. The headline is very misleading. It gives the impression that Mugabe has been refusing to hand over the chairmanship. I don't understand why scribes use such language.

D.N.Munonyara. - 14 August 2015

Khama was supposed to be chairman in 2018 not 2016 .

Big Meech Larry Hoover - 14 August 2015

I like that ,mutirowafanza, THE LIMPING GOBLIN, that's the ruthless old bob for you. chikwambo chaicho, manje this tym we are calling vana tsikamutanda kkkkkk.

francis muzex - 14 August 2015

As ordinary people we should not be arguing with each other we should be standing together to sign the SADC Tribunal petition that is being messed up by the SAD Leaders visit the Southern Africa Litigation Centre Website and sign the petition signatures still needed before these leaders meet

African - 14 August 2015

President KHAMA is known to be pro West not pro democracy as such. If he did not support our land reform ,siding with Boers that does not make him better than our dear leader.

Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof) - 14 August 2015

i would not matter from which side you are looking at the coin its either heads or tail or both. 3 things kill an economy. - Rule of law - Corruption - Corporate governance The list can go on be my guest to add on, but those are my top 3. So you be the judge

paparuu - 14 August 2015

I hope khama will attend to the issue of conflict in lesotho with more vigour. Public and private investment in the sadc is to improve in order to make a dent on unemployment.

S C Pilane - 15 August 2015

I hope that Mr Khama will be able to persuade Mr Mugabe to retire and enjoy the remainder of his days. Then to arrange a new voters roll in Zimbabwe based on fair representation for the Matabeles as well as the Shona population groups. Then hold fair and monitored elections based on equal representation according to population groups. Then with newly elected leadership restore the rule of Law and Order in Zimbabwe. Then do everything possible aimed at restoring the economy in order to provide employment and a future for all , irrespective of skin colour or creed. This will bring civilisation back into Zimbabwe.

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