By Nkululeko Sibanda
THE Zimbabwean crisis continues to exist in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) corridors despite efforts by regional leaders to portray the ugly scenes that rocked the country in recent weeks and the economic crisis facing the country as a thing of the past, a top MDC official has said.
Sadc chairperson, Namibia President Hage Geingob early this week released a statement after the regional body met on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he said the region was in full support of the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government’s efforts on the socio-political and economic spheres.
But addressing business executives in Victoria Falls yesterday during the first session of a three-day Africa CEO Roundtable conference, MDC deputy chairman, Tendai Biti said Sadc leaders were seized with the Zimbabwean crisis behind closed doors.
“I think that a lot of things are happening behind closed doors, that I can assure you, within Sadc. I think that you should not be misled by prima facie appearances of condonation by the leadership of Sadc,” he said.
“You must also remember that Sadc member states have been bearing a lot of weight arising from Zimbabwe’s failure. You have a situation where you have three million Zimbabweans in South Africa as we speak, to a larger extent that South Africa has been subsidising Zimbabwe as we speak.”
Biti said the regional economy was suffering as a result of the presence of Zimbabweans fleeing a crisis at home.
He said countries such as South Africa were now faced with a strain on their social services as a result of Zimbabwean immigrants in that country.
“I think that out of their own selfish interests, they (Sadc leaders) will move (to act) on Zimbabwe because the crisis is putting a premium on their country. South Africa has been doddering on a 1% gross domestic product (GDP) growth and I think after solving the Zimbabwean situation, South Africa’s economy could grow to about 2 or 3% of its GDP,” he said.
“Zimbabwe has these portals of discomfort that will make the region to act even if they don’t want. I am not worried by the slowness. Even in 2007, we pushed and President Thabo Mbeki did not move. But once images of a butchered Morgan Tsvangirai emerged from Machipisa on March 11 2007, Sadc moved very quickly and convened that meeting in Dar es Salam on March 27, 2007.”
Biti had earlier on said the country’s challenges can only be solved through an international community-negotiated political dialogue.
“We need genuine dialogue that will be facilitated by the international community such as what happened in 2007. Sadc underwrote that dialogue (for the Government of National Unity). The same arrangement is what Zimbabwe requires as of now. We cannot have a wrongdoer chaperoning dialogue. That can’t happen. We need a dialogue that will be guaranteed by the international community,” Biti said.