Sunday, April 13, 2008

See no crisis, hear no crisis and speak of no crisis

So, leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community met for an unprecedented 12 or 13 hours. Turns out the issue that took most of their witching hour deliberations was whether to call the situation in Zimbabwe “a crisis” or not.

In the end, after a whole night, they announced their decision to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the presidential results – as if they were the first to call for that.

To crown it all, they declared that there is “no crisis” in Zimbabwe. No prizes for guessing where that phrase originated from. Here is a hint through – South African president, Thabo Mbeki passed through Harare on his way to Lusaka.

No Crisis
A simplified dictionary definition of a crisis says it is a “critical moment”. Politically, one could define it as “an unstable and dangerous situation”.

Now, let’s put this in context. Zimbabweans voted on March 29. Two weeks later they have not been told who their choice for president is. The Movement for Democratic Change claims that its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai won. They are supported by the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network.

The ruling party does not dispute that Tsvangirai may have won but they have demanded recounts, a run-off and now a re-run. Mugabe has reconstituted his dissolved cabinet including MPs beaten in the election.

The army and police have been deployed massively, war veterans and Zanu PF zealots are re-occupying farms and, slowly but surely, information and evidence of people being tortured is coming out.

The economy is at a virtual standstill.

All this does not constitute a crisis to SADC leaders. It is normal for Mbeki to host more than three million Zimbabweans in his country. It is normal for Mwanawasa to see Zimbabwean mothers and young girls prostituting themselves on the streets of Lusaka.

It is no crisis for President Khama to have Botswana’s commercial sector clogged by Zimbabwean professionals seeking refuge in his country and President Armando Guebuza sees no crisis when Zimbabweans cross the border everyday to seek jobs on Mozambican farms.

Ah, handina remuromo (I am lost for words).