HOURS after police brutally denied poverty and hardship-ravaged citizens the right to protest over the country’s worsening economic situation, President Emmerson Mnangagwa flew out of the country for the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) 39th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The summit, held over the weekend, was themed A conducive environment for inclusive and sustainable industrial development, increased intra-regional trade and job creation.
While the theme told us of a community of nations that is forward looking and prepared to take their countries to a new level, it must have been very difficult for Mnangagwa to feel comfortable at the meeting, especially coming from a country where the environment for inclusivity and development are a far away pipe-dream for the majority of his fellow country folk.
It is hoped that Mnangagwa and his Sadc counterparts appreciate that a conducive environment includes allowing people to protest if they are not happy with their governance. While Zimbabwe’s economy is currently experiencing serious problems that need the citizens to put their heads together for a lasting solution, Mnangagwa’s administration appears wont to disallow any other ideas from other citizens. Any view, other than from the ruling elite, currently appears not permitted in Zimbabwe.
Given what happened on Friday last week, the State is still far from understanding what a conducive environment for sustainable development means. When a whole government, through State power, denies its citizens the right to push for a better way of doing things, then this is what gatherings such as the Sadc summits should discuss if ever real economic development is to visit the region. It is instability and crushing of people’s rights in countries like Zimbabwe that is pulling back Sadc’s progress.
Sadc may meet every day to discuss developmental issues in the region, but their discussions will just be a waste of resources and energy as long as member States are not making the environment back home conducive for inclusivity. After all, what happened last week in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, will only serve to create problems for other Sadc countries with Zimbabweans crossing the border to escape a brutal regime that purports to be committed to inclusive development when it obviously is committed to the opposite.