PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has thanked Sadc for standing with Zimbabwe at a time the country was facing serious political and economic challenges.
EVERSON MUSHAVA/OWEN GAGARE IN VIC FALLS
Mugabe, who took over as Sadc chairman yesterday in Victoria Falls, said the country would not be standing on its feet had the regional bloc turned a blind eye to its problems.
“Let me conclude by thanking Sadc for standing by Zimbabwe at a time we faced serious challenges,” Mugabe said.
“We thank Sadc for consistently calling for the removal of EU and Western illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe whose effects are debilitating to economy and to our people. Without your support, we will not be standing on our feet today. We will remain eternally grateful for that.”
Zimbabwe, emerging from a decade-long political crisis, is currently under sanctions from the West and Sadc has repeatedly called for the removal of the embargo.
Mugabe commended Sadc’s patience and perseverance in dealing with political disputes among member states as witnessed in its approach with Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
His remarks came after Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi also thanked Sadc, particularly South Africa President Jacob Zuma and his predecessors Kgalema Motlanthe and Thabo Mbeki, for the role they played in resolving Zimbabwe’s decade-long political crisis.
“As Zimbabwe, we would like express our gratitude to Sadc, in particular President Zuma and before him, Motlanthe and former President Thabo Mbeki. They worked very hard to resolve the political problems in Zimbabwe,” Mumbengegwi told journalists on Saturday.
Mbeki was instrumental in crafting the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which gave birth to the government of national unity between longtime adversaries Mugabe’s Zanu PF and the MDC formations led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube.
Zuma was Sadc’s point man as the regional bloc pushed for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, however, went for elections without fully implementing the GPA and the election roadmap crafted with the assistance of Sadc, in defiance of Zuma and other regional heads.
Ahead of the elections, Mugabe blasted the then spokesperson of his facilitation team, Lindiwe Zulu, labelling her a “stupid, idiotic street woman” after she had insisted Zimbabwe would only go for elections after the election roadmap and GPA were fulfilled to the letter.
Mumbengegwi, who is also the chairman of the Sadc council of ministers, however, said the role the bloc had played in Zimbabwe and other countries was very critical.
“We are also proud of what Sadc has done in Madagascar and through patient diplomatic efforts, successful elections have been held. Sadc has also helped a sister State, the Democratic Republic of Congo. We joined arms and neutralised negative forces destabilising DRC — the M23,” he said. “Stability has been created and government is now in control of its territory.”
Mugabe assured Sadc, particularly the regional body’s executive secretary Dr Stergomena Tax, that Zimbabwe was keen to work with her.