Sunday, August 19, 2007

Shame on all SADC leaders

What transpired at the SADC heads of state summit in Lusaka last week has left me wondering whether south African leaders know exactly what is going on in Zimbabwe or they are just so blinded with their love (or is it fear) of President Robert Mugabe that they just don’t care.

How on earth could Zambian president, Levy Mwanawasa say problems in Zimbabwe are being “exaggerated”?

How can anyone exaggerate hunger affecting 3-4 million people; 80% unemployment; more than 5,000% inflation; 3-4 million Zimbabweans exiled; hundreds of opposition and civic activists beaten up, tortured, jailed and killed? How possible is it to embellish that when most of these statistics are churned out by none other than the government or its agencies?

Mwanawasa should know better. Not long ago his own country was in a situation not even as bad as what is prevailing in Zimbabwe. But he is president now because long-time president (for 27 years), Kenneth Kaunda, allowed free and fair elections that toppled him in a labour and civic-driven vote not unlike the one being suppressed in Zimbabwe.

Why then, Mwanawasa do you want to help suppress Zimbabweans from exercising what you benefited from? We thought you were your own man when you stood out and condemned Zimbabwe as “a sinking titanic”. How powerful is Mugabe’s hold on you?

As for South African president, Thabo Mbeki, I wonder whether we are really underestimating the thinking behind the so-called “quiet diplomacy”. Surely a country “burdened” by no less than three million Zimbabweans crossing over in thousands everyday, should actively and urgently seek a lasting solution to the troubled neighbour’s problems.

Unless, of course, Zimbabwe’s troubles and loss of its people is a massive economic gain to South Africa. One just has to look at how many Zimbabwean professionals are running South African hospitals, schools, newsrooms, companies and more. Could it be that Mr. Mbeki has realized that Zimbabwean exiles are worth more to him?

As for the rest of SADC leaders, well, I kind of sense jealousy. After all Zimbabwe is really an economic giant that is only slumbering. Should it be woken up to play, it will rule the commercial playground again in no time.

This is the only way I can rationalize what is going on in SADC about the Zimbabwe issue. Forget all this “solidarity with a brother state” nonsense. Forget the phony condemnation of Britain and the US and others. It is all about insecure regimes happy to have national and international attention on someone else not themselves.

Everybody knows what the real issue is in Zimbabwe. It is about a politically and economically suppressed nation. A nation needing relief from an 83-year-old khulu whose recycled ideas and personnel are just too spent to recharge a modern economy needing modern leadership and ideas.

It is not a personal issue against Mugabe or anybody. It is an urgent national and regional matter that needs to be addressed now.

Mandela, Kaunda, Nyerere, Nujoma and even Mugabe’s own idol, the late Kamuzu Banda let their countries free to seek new leaders. This is all we are asking for please, President Mugabe.