SADC stance on Zim 'a disappointment'

2011-06-14 14:58
Cape Town – A political analyst with the Institute of Security Studies in South Africa has criticised the outcome of the recently-ended SADC extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe, saying it was a disappointment as it failed to address pertinent issues regarding the Zimbabwean crisis.

Dr Judy Smith told News24 on Tuesday that the summit, which was held at the weekend in SA, fell short of coming up with “a clear statement regarding the Livingstone communiqué which insisted that promised reforms be carried out” in that country.

“The fact that the summit said little about the regional body’s position on the issues raised in Livingstone regarding the polarisation of the political environment and the resurgence of violence, arrests and intimidation makes it no different from previous summits which have failed to come up with clear resolutions to the Zimbabwean crisis,” Smith said.

SADC leaders met in Johannesburg last Saturday and Sunday, and a statement released at the end of the summit said the decisions of a March 31 meeting of the SADC Troika Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, which were rejected by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, had been “noted”.

Smith said it was unfortunate that there were two key omissions in the communiqué as “no timelines were set and no statement was made as to what would happen should the parties not move faster or slower” to fully implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

The regional leaders called on Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to speed up implementation of the power-sharing deal that brought them together in an uneasy coalition government in 2009. They, however, stopped short of the unusually harsh language used in March by the security troika, which called for an end to political violence and insisted that promised reforms be carried out.

“Well, while the Livingstone deliberations may have been cause for optimism that a more vocal approach would be taken, the truth is that all past communiqués issued by SADC have had the same ‘soft tone’ on Zimbabwe," said Smith.

She said it was unfortunate that SADC had few mechanisms at its disposal to enforce compliance with decisions made by the regional body, “the most obvious of which seem very unlikely to be employed in the case of Zimbabwe - namely expelling or sanctioning a member state”.

Longstanding impasse

Another report on Zimbabwe is expected to be made at SADC’s annual summit, which will be hosted in Luanda by the incoming chair of the body, Angola, in August.

“As far as I’m aware, South Africa [SADC mediator on Zimbabwe] is expected to present another report on progress, that’s where the roadmap will be presented. Given the current pace of the process and the longstanding impasse on those well-known outstanding issues, it is unlikely that the GPA will be implemented,” said Smith.

She said it was clear that South Africa was ready to see the Livingstone decisions endorsed during the summit but it was the reluctance on other SADC countries that made it difficult for this dream to be realised.

“I think the SA team is committed to resolving the crisis, but it is seriously hampered by an apparent reluctance to come out strongly on Zimbabwe from all SADC member states. We have to be realistic about what we can expect from an external facilitator or from a body such as SADC without the internal consensus among the parties to the GPA on current state of affairs in Zimbabwe,” Smith said.

She said from the reports issued in the past, it was clear that Zimbabwean leaders were not on the same page on a number of issues and therefore, it was difficult for them to agree on the way forward.

Follow Betha Madhomu on Twitter.

Read more on:    sadc  |  robert mugabe  |  morgan tsvangirai  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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