President Robert Mugabe was among regional leaders who at the weekend witnessed the official opening of the new Sadc head office in Gaborone, Botswana.
President Mugabe and regional heads present hailed the opening of the new headquarters as a major milestone which would further regional integration.
That is easier said than done.
The ceremony in Botswana was emblematic as it coincided with the regional bloc’s failure to convene a troika meeting on Politics, Defence and Security to deal with the crisis in Zimbabwe and a mutiny by army officers in Madagascar.
The troika was scheduled to meet in Gaborone at the weekend but the meeting failed to take place after two troika members, Zambian President Rupiah Banda who is chair and Mozambique President Armando Guebuza failed to turn up.
The other troika member, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, was in Gaborone.
MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara had travelled to Botswana as part of the troika initiative.
The failure of the troika to meet to discuss the crisis, mainly centred on the power balance in the inclusive government, has been celebrated by the Mugabe camp as a victory as Tsvangirai had returned from Botswana “empty-handed”.
It has become common for President Mugabe to claim victory whenever regional initiatives to break the political logjam in the country fail.
To Zanu PF, economic stagnation and political uncertainty have become synonymous with victory over Tsvangirai who has over the years failed to see the futility of relying on Sadc to chastise President Mugabe.
The open celebration by Zanu PF that the troika had failed to convene is a major indictment on Sadc which appears clueless on how to deal with the fundamental issue of conflict resolution in the region.
Is it not embarrassing that the regional leaders would proclaim regional integration when a cancerous Zimbabwe continues to fester at the centre of the bloc?
The potential for violence ahead of next year’s election is a major threat to the well-being of the region.
As if the experience prior to the formation of the GNU were not enough, Sadc leaders would rather meet to eat and drink than engage with Zimbabwean leaders to solve the problems here.
It is a fact that there cannot be proper regional integration in southern Africa as long as Zimbabwe’s economy remains on the treatment table.
The regional heads know this but have always pretended that President Mugabe’s heroism against imperialism is greater than developing economies in the Sadc region.
It is not surprising therefore that the quest for a common currency and the lifting of trade barriers in the region will always remain a pipe-dream.
There are huge problems ahead for Zimbabwe especially if President Mugabe goes ahead to call for elections.
Sadc heads are non- commital on the issue of organising the poll or sending in peacekeepers.
Our neighbours have started to exhibit deliberate indifference to our plight and the most unfortunate aspect of this is that President Mugabe regards this lack of concern as outright support and endorsement of his actions.
The moral of the events at the weekend in Gaborone is that Tsvangirai needs a new strategy to confront President Mugabe and solve key issues of governance before the polls to avert a major political crisis.