Machel chides SADC over Zim

2009-01-21 14:00

Johannesburg - Former Mozambican First Lady Graca Machel on Wednesday said Zimbabwe's government had lost all legitimacy and warned other liberation movements in the region against following the same route.

Machel said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had been dragging its feet for too long in solving the crisis in Zimbabwe.

"I have been part of those who trusted and waited that our leaders knew what they were doing... that they would find a solution. Somehow one has to accept we stood and waited for too long," Machel said in Johannesburg.

She was speaking at the launch of the "Save Zimbabwe Now" campaign by church leaders who will embark on a period of fasting to raise awareness of the crisis in Zimbabwe.

"Your heart stings when you remember the thousands and thousands of women, children, men, young and old, who in the meantime passed on and whose lives could have been saved.

"We trusted too long, it's time we tell our leaders we lay the lives of all those who passed on... in their hands."

Machel said it was a government's responsibility to protect its citizens, and that Zimbabwe had failed to do that.

"I want to say to the leadership who are in government in Zimbabwe... a government must protect its citizens... it's how you treat your own citizens, that's where your legitimacy comes from.

"It [the Zimbabwean government] has lost completely any kind of legitimacy."

Machel said Southern African leaders needed to get new voices in their attempts to solve Zimbabwe's political and social problems.

"I want to say to our leaders and SADC, this is no longer a Zimbabwean issue. This is the biggest test to all leaders of SADC.

"They, as a collective leadership, took the responsibility to solve the conflict and we have been waiting too long."

Machel said the SADC had the mandate of millions of citizens in its region to create stability in Zimbabwe.

"This is not normal. This is a lesson to our region. We came together to liberate ourselves, but now [we see] that power can pervert you to become precisely the opposite of what led you to become a freedom fighter.

"This is a lesson to other liberation movements in our region," said Machel.