The Landscape: Sadc June 11 and AU security chairmanship don’t mix

Zimbabwe’s political matrix is getting increasingly interesting, almost fun, had it not been for the implications on the lives of the 15-plus million people.

The developments in this southern African state can only be interesting to political scientists putting together some thesis on the endless episodes of drama, tragedy and sometimes comedy that has continued to unfold in Zimbabwe for over a decade now.

With effect from tomorrow, Zimbabwe — meaning President Robert Mugabe — becomes chairman of the powerful Peace and Security Council of the African Union. For the next 30 days — the duration of the rotational chairmanship — Zimbabwe will, among other expectations, be looked upon to deliver resolutions passed by the continental body’s extraordinary summit on the state of peace and security in Africa.

The other event takes place on June 11 when Zimbabwean leaders of the country’s three-legged coalition will appear before Sadc Heads of State in South Africa, to deal with Zimbabwe’s unfinished election roadmap business.

The scenario that these two developments presents is that of President Mugabe, now chairman of the continent’s powerful Peace and Security Council, being called to account by its lesser sibling, Sadc, on matters that have a potential to embarrass him — even tear his political schemes apart.

There has already been excitement from quarters needless to mention over the meaning of the two developments. “(President) Mugabe now has an opportunity to tell this Zuma fellow in his face that he is not qualified to preach the business of security and peace in his country when he is the man of the entire continent’s peace and security body,” some opined.

There are others that suggested even that come June 11, Zanu PF, through President Mugabe, would literally walk over Sadc leaders and trash the Livingstone resolutions — in fact, turn the tables against MDC-T whose police “dossier” of violence gets thicker by the day.

Already, President Mugabe and his party have gone to great pains to overturn the MDC-T’s Livingstone spectacular diplomatic victory. Top ministerial envoys were dispatched to Sadc countries brandishing thick dossiers of alleged MDC-T sadism and they all returned to deliver positive reports of how well received they had been on their “eye-opening” missions.

So, with an “enlightened” Sadc leadership having to deal with the chairman of the continental body on peace and security, the view that many sympathisers of the once-revolutionalry party would want to entertain is that of a Mugabe walkover and an MDC-T knuckle-rapping.

The politics of the June events, however, work in a different way.

To begin with, the AU will not sit throughout the month of June that Zimbabwe will be chairing the security organ. What this means is that our President may not have a chance at all to boss the likes of Zuma around.

President Mugabe’s mandate throughout June would be to ensure the full implementation of the resolutions that the Addis Ababa AU Summit took — particularly the Libyan question.

The other general task would be, as correctly pointed out by Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, to ensure outstanding peace and security issues in Africa are solved politically.

During its month-long tenure as chairman of the security council, Zimbabwe will deal with the Libyan crisis with a view that the whole “drama” in North Africa is a creation of greedy Western countries bent on stealing rich African resources.

In Zimbabwe’s view, there is no discontent among the citizens of North Africa. Had it not been for the West, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya would have been the proverbial milk and honey scenarios.

“Libya is a legitimate member of the African Union and all this noise by the West is aimed at ensuring that they have total control of our resources. Africa is rich and they want to reverse the freedoms gained from various struggles,” Mumbengegwi said.

Down in SA on June 11, President Mugabe will together with Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube, appear before Sadc as leaders of their parties in Zimbabwe and not wearing any other hats.

The occasion will be the Tripatite Summit involving Sadc, Ecowas and Comesa.

Sadc Heads of State will find time at this summit to deal with the crucial Zimbabwe problem which the Windoek meeting failed to accommodate because of the unavailability of President Jacob Zuma.

The AU mandated Sadc to deal with the protracted Zimbabwean governance problem and so, when the GNU principals appear before Sadc, they will be equal.

Sadc has a task to produce an election roadmap for Zimbabwe and that task is clear for all three parties.
Ideas being toyed around by certain “analysts” to the effect that the GPA is the roadmap or that issues such as the constitution and reforms on the electoral and security among other fronts are needless — are themselves wishes that Sadc could find not easy to fulfil.

So Zimbabwe’s chairmanship of a powerful AU organ will not affect the manner in which the regional body will deal with the vital issues of Zimbabwe’s elections, its constitution, reforms — generally, the election roadmap and the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement.

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