The position taken by Sadc at the African Union’s Golden Jubilee celebrations last week that the regional bloc would convene a special summit on Zimbabwe ahead of elections is both welcome and well thought out.
As guarantors of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which gave birth to the inclusive government, it is incumbent upon Sadc to ensure that credible polls are held in Zimbabwe with results that won’t be contested.
Winners and losers alike ought to accept the outcome and the will of the people of Zimbabwe has to prevail.
That, in short, has been the task of Sadc in its bid to ensure that Zimbabwe rejoins the global family of nations in which some states, particularly in the West, have branded the country an outcast following what they perceive as misrule and disregard of human rights by President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
Following the signing of the GPA five years ago, a roadmap leading to elections was agreed upon by all political parties and Zimbabweans celebrated that finally common ground had been found and a new dispensation was on the horizon.
But, security sector and media reforms are yet to be implemented. As a result, service chiefs have been openly supporting Zanu PF in outright breach of both their terms of reference and the GPA which compels them to be impartial.
The State broadcaster, ZBC, is yet to reform — going into overdrive in its quest to demonise Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party while glorifying President Mugabe and Zanu PF at every opportunity.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is still heavily infiltrated by State security agencies aligned to Zanu PF which are determined to ensure the party’s victory by hook or by crook. The same goes for the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office where RG Tobaiwa Mudede, an acknowleged Zanu PF sympathiser, is clinging to the post despite his advanced age (67) which prohibits him from remaining in office as a civil servant.
It is against all this background that a special summit on Zimbabwe is imperative, so that Sadc puts its foot down and addresses the outstanding issues ahead of elections. It is a litmus test for the regional bloc to prove that it is not a toothless bulldog that can be hoodwinked by Zanu PF at every turn.
The impending summit is also testimony that Tsvangirai emerged victorious in his regional tour last month as he sought to convince Sadc leaders that all was not well in the country in the run up to the polls.
Time has come for Sadc to stand up and be counted as an effective body with the wishes of its people at heart.
As the leaders convene for the summit, it is important for them to realise that failure is not be an option as repercussions of disputed polls would be felt even by their respective countries.
Should Zimbabwe plunge back into the dark past, many are likely to troop there in search of greener pastures, putting pressure on their economies and, most likely, triggering internal dissent. All this can be avoided by ensuring that elections in Zimbabwe are held in a free and fair environment, producing results acceptable to all. As of now, all eyes are on Sadc.