The two MDC formations on Sunday described the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) as a toothless bulldog after the bloc’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security failed to meet in Gaborone, Botswana, on Friday to look into the deepening political crisis in Zimbabwe.
The statement come as Reuters on Sunday reported that South African President Jacob Zuma was expected to meet principals in the unity government next week for further talks on settling their disputes over power sharing.
Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Salamao told reporters that Zuma was expected to go to Harare by the end of next week to continue with his mediation efforts.
“After the Troika summit failed to take place, it was agreed that President Zuma should go to Harare again where he would hold talks with the three parties in the (political agreement),” Salamao said.
“After that he would be expected to make a recommendation to the chairperson Rupiah Banda on the next date for another Troika summit.”
The organ, chaired by Zambian President Rupiah Banda, was supposed to meet before the official opening of the new Sadc headquarters to discuss problems which have threatened to split Zimbabwe’s shaky coalition government, but failed because Banda and Mozambican President Armando Guebuza did not turn up.
Heads of state and government were supposed to consider the report of the Troika, that includes Zambia, Mozambique and Namibia, and come up with recommendations on how to deal with the worsening political situations in Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
However, Banda and Guebuza did not turn up for the scheduled meeting.
Zimbabwe’s inclusive government has been limping since President Robert Mugabe made unilateral appointments of ambassadors and judges a few months ago.
President Mugabe also infuriated his partners by unilaterally re-appointing provincial governors and dragging his feet over the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), among other things.
MDC-T is also not amused by President Mugabe’s delays in appointing its Deputy Minister of Agriculture-designate, Roy Bennett.
MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti and party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said they were disappointed by the way Sadc was handling the Zimbabwean crisis, adding that the regional body’s capacity was being tested.
“The credibility and legitimacy of Sadc is certainly put in jeopardy with such developments. Our leader was invited only to be told that the chair was not there. This matter deserves urgency and seriousness because there is a risk of a political slide which is not good for the people of Zimbabwe,” said Chamisa.
“Rome is burning and we don’t want to be consumed in the fires of violence and acrimony.”
Biti said they attended the meeting after being invited by the Sadc secretariat and were thus shocked when members of the troika failed to attend.
He said Sadc leaders had met in Caprivi, Namibia, last Friday and should have therefore known whether the meeting would take place or not.
“If what happened is a reflection of Sadc and Africa, then we have a long way to go. We were extremely disappointed with Sadc’s capacity or lack thereof because the confusion that was there is unparalleled,” said Biti.
“The critical question is whether people are able to stand up to the truth. Is Sadc able to stand up to bullies? ls Sadc able to stand up to errant members?”
Biti said his party wants President Mugabe’s breach of the GPA, such as the unilateral appointments and the failure to implement agreed issues such as media reforms and the land audit, to be addressed.
He said outstanding issues, which are the refusal of President Mugabe to swear in Bennett and the appointments of Gideon Gono as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor and Johannes Tomana as the attorney general, also need to be addressed.
MDC-T was hoping to press Sadc to ensure that the roadmap towards free and fair elections is followed and get answers on what happened to the commitment made by the Sadc facilitator on the Zimbabwe crisis, Zuma, to ensure that outstanding issues are dealt with within 30 days.
Zuma made the commitment at the Troika meeting held between August 15 and 17 in Windhoek, Namibia.
“There are also toxic issues such as the increased violence, the deployment of soldiers in the provinces, the deployment of Jabulani Sibanda in the provinces,” Biti said.
MDC-M spokesperson Edwin Mushoriwa said his party would have been surprised if anything positive had come out of Gaborone given what had transpired at previous Sadc and Africa Union (AU) meetings.
He said Zimbabweans should not put their hope on Sadc or the AU and instead fight their battle alone.
“This is not new. As a party we were going to be surprised if there was any action. Maybe people are now tired of our problems and even (President) Mugabe now knows that and is not worried about the Sadc and AU meetings,” said Mushoriwa.
“There is nothing that Sadc can do, except play a facilitatory role. It is up to us as Zimbabweans to deal head-on with the excesses of (President) Mugabe.”
The inclusive government is currently facing strains with both President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai saying elections should be held to put an end to the inclusive government.