Four years ago, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) played a decisive role in saving Zimbabwe from sliding into the league of failed states in the mould of Somalia.
President Robert Mugabe was forced into an inclusive government with his sworn enemies and for the first time in almost a decade Zimbabweans could see light at the end of the tunnel.
Hyperinflation was curtailed, supermarket shelves were restocked and signs of economic revival became evident.
But barely a year into the new-found stability, Mugabe started demanding elections to end the coalition government.
He claimed the inclusive government had become dysfunctional, but the truth is that the Zanu PF leader was not accustomed to sharing power. The reasons behind his calls for fresh polls were driven by selfish motives which were at variance with national aspirations.
Mugabe’s electioneering that began at the 2010 Zanu PF annual conference in Mutare effectively put the brakes to the anticipated reform agenda and economic recovery, which put Zimbabwe back into an election mode.
The calls have of late intensified with Mugabe sending envoys to lobby Sadc leaders on the new polls. Zanu functionaries have been deployed to disrupt the constitution-making process in the forlorn hope that elections will be held without the agreed reforms.
Zanu PF’s coalition partners — the two MDC formations — and civic society have taken a principled stand that we cannot be plunged into another 2008 scenario where hundreds of people lost their lives by holding elections before the necessary reforms.
Starting from today, Sadc leaders will be discussing the stand-off on the sidelines of an extraordinary summit in Angola.
The three principals in the inclusive government — Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara — as well as Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube have been invited to the Sadc Organ for Defence, Politics and Security meeting.
The last time the Troika met in Livingstone, Zambia, last year, the leaders made it clear to Mugabe and Zanu PF that Zimbabwe would not be allowed to relapse into the 2008 madness.
Predictably, Mugabe was angry to an extent that he threatened to reject South African President Jacob Zuma as the mediator, accusing him of bias.
However, we don’t expect this to cow the regional leaders to retreat from their commendable stance and bow down to Zanu PF pressure.
Zimbabwe is simply not ready for elections and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said as much after her assessment of the situation last week.
Pillay said holding elections under the present conditions would be suicidal.
We, therefore, expect the Troika to breathe more life into Zuma’s mediation so that the parties in the inclusive government expedite the reforms that are necessary for any credible election.
Failure to do that will see all the resources that Sadc has invested in dousing the flames in Zimbabwe going to waste.
Mugabe’s peers have to remind him that it is paramount to put the country first and stop paying lip service to reforms that would guarantee the holding of a credible election.