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Sadc mum on Zim rights violations



The Southern African Development Committee (Sadc) yesterday ignored calls by Zimbabweans and the international community to address gross human rights violations prevalent in the country at its 40th Ordinary Summit.

The virtual meeting, which was attended by 16 heads of States, threw a blanket statement over the issue despite the African Union, United Nations and other international organisations raising concern on the torture, abduction, arrest of Zimbabwean journalists and unlawful incarceration of political activists by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Civic society and opposition political parties have in the past castigated the “brotherhood” solidarity of Sadc member States, which they said worked against democratisation of the regional bloc.

Sadc, however, discussed progress on the political and security situations in Lesotho and Mozambique which they said were threatening regional peace.

“Summit welcomed the decision by the government of the Republic of Mozambique to bring to the attention of Sadc the violent attacks situation in the country, and commended the country for its continued efforts towards combating terrorism and violent attacks. Summit expressed Sadc solidarity and commitment to support Mozambique in addressing the terrorism and violent attacks, and condemned all acts of terrorism and armed attacks,” a statement released after the summit read.

The heads of State approved Sadc’s vision 2050, which they said was based on a firm foundation of peace, security and democratic governance.

“The heads of State approved the Sadc Vision 2050, which is based on a firm foundation of peace, security and democratic governance which is premised on three interrelated pillars, namely, industrial development and market integration; infrastructure development in support of regional integration; and social and human capital development,” the statement further read.

“The summit also welcomed the commitment of the new government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to ensure the full and comprehensive implementation of the reforms process, and encouraged them to keep the momentum in the implementation of the Sadc decisions, and submit a progress to the next summit in August 2021.”

They also received a report on the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia border conflict, and commended the nations on their commitment to resolving the standoff amicably.

They also approved an agreement amending the Sadc protocol on the control of firearms, ammunition and other related materials.

Political analysts said Sadc was an “old boys club” with little focus on human rights and the interests of people.

Local commentator Rashweat Mukundu said Zimbabweans must not expect much from the Sadc in the absence of former Botswana President Ian Khama and the late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa.

“Sadc is unfortunately an old boys club with little if any focus on human rights and the interest of the people of this region. I don’t expect anything to come out of Sadc, more so in the absence of forthright leaders like former Botswana President Ian Khama and the late Zambian President Mwanawasa. These were prepared to confront the excesses of the late former President Robert Mugabe, but now human rights violations are widespread in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, among others,” Mukundu said.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa last week after the visit by South African envoys said Zimbabwe would not be on the Sadc agenda.

“It is common knowledge that there is no Zimbabwean issue before the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security. Neither is there any such issue before the Sadc Summit. Definitely there is no such issue before the continental body, the African Union,” Mutsvangwa said.

Churches, local opposition political figures and some outside Zimbabwe’s borders hoped that the issue of human rights violations would take centre stage at the summit.

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