A Harare-based outspoken cleric and an instrumental member of the Zimbabwe Divine Destiny (ZDD) Reverend Guthrie Melusi Gwanzura has weighed in on Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s latest statement on Zimbabwe and find it largely prejudiced.
On Monday, SADC made public that it had received a briefing from President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the current political and socio-economic developments in the country.
In a statement, SADC leader Hage Geingob, the president of Namibia, called for the unconditional removal of the European Union sanctions regime saying they were stifling Zimbabwean’s government’s efforts to transform the economy and bring out prosperity to the people of Zimbabwe.
The regional bloc also pointed a finger at some internal groups, non-governmental organisations in particular, which it said have “continued with efforts to destabilise Zimbabwe.”
“The SADC Heads of State and Government noted that since coming to power, the new Government of Zimbabwe has continued with concerted efforts to address socioeconomic challenges and transform the economy, particularly through the Zimbabwe Transitional Stabilization Programme (2018-2020), and to consolidate unity and peace in the country. This, notwithstanding, some internal groups, in particular NGOs, supported by external forces, have continued with efforts to destabilise the country,” part of the statement reads.
Partially, SADC condemned the recent violent fuel price demonstrations that claimed over 12 lives, left 78 gunshot wounds, hundreds of instances of assault or torture, and enough arrests to fill prisons beyond capacity.
“The SADC Heads of State and Government also noted that in an effort to address the economic challenges in the country, the Government recently increased fuel prices. Unfortunately, violent demonstrators rode on the back of increases in fuel prices, to implement their intention to destabilise the country. The demonstrations resulted in the destruction of property and loss of life. SADC condemns, in the strongest terms, the violence that ensued, and expresses sympathy with the affected families for the loss of their loved ones and their properties.”
The statement ended with the regional bloc acknowledging recent efforts by the government to initiate an inclusive national dialogue, saying all stakeholders should support with the view to strengthening the economic transformation of the country.
“The SADC Heads of State and Government also noted that the Government has commenced dialogue with all stakeholders in the country with a view to strengthening economic transformation, and calls upon all stakeholders to support the process.”
Rev Melusi, a pastor with the Amazing Love Church, however, was among a batch of citizens who were least impressed by SADC’s delayed and conforming response.
The man of cloth told Hallelujah Magazine that the statement was hugely built on what President Mnangagwa submitted to the regional bloc, and not exactly what has been transpiring in the country.
“That’s why ED pushed for the State House meeting so that he could give SADC dried straw and dried leaves to hold on to in the name of initiating Dialogue,” said Rev Melusi. “Now SADC, as usual, has taken a one-sided stance based on an elaborate misleading and cosmetic plan and what’s next for our President and his calculating team?”
Rev Melusi said the “Zimbabwe We Want“, a motif that citizens have been demanding since November 2017 when former president Robert Mugabe was ousted, can only be achieved through transparency, honesty and open talks.
“As long as Cde ED continues to use CIO and Military Intelligence strategies even when he has become President of this Republic he will never realise the ‘Zimbabwe We Want’ because it can only be achieved by transparent, candid and open talk. Covert and Overt Operations are not for his office, he has to transition himself from the Spy and Intelligence Supremo he was to become a genuine and truthful President.”
The Rev also opined on a framework on which the much-talked-about national dialogue should be conducted, saying at most it has to involve two of the country’s dominant political parties, the Advocate Nelson Chamisa-led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and ZANU PF.
“Dialogue should be dialogue and with the real players. The equation of Dialogue has 2 Proponents; ZANU PF as the State and incumbent Executive influencing the Judiciary and the Parliament together with the Chamisa-led MDC which has a Parliamentary footprint and urban Council control.
Gathering 20 supposed leaders outside Chamisa’s MDC to endorse a flawed process is a fatal miscarriage to the new Zimbabwe and in the same vein gathering everyone else, save ZANU PF is equally fatal.
Having said all this, it’s time to accept that Zimbabwe is caught in between two realities; A ZANU PF reality and narrative and an MDC one and in that polarised state where any third force is betrayal to either or of the above, the Church together with the business community, civil society organisations, Youth and many players should save Zimbabwe from the politicians and force dialogue and create an enabling environment for political stability, social justice and economic recovery,”
said Rev Melusi.
Apart from Rev Melusi, other politically inclined stakeholders have also commended on SADC’s latest statement on Zimbabwe.
Piers Pigou, International Crisis Group’s Senior Consultant for Southern Africa, said the SADC statement was not surprising and “predictably unimaginative”.
The support by SADC for Pres. Mnangagwa, another political observer noted, is likely to anger opposition parties and civic groups who had been hopeful of the censure of Mnangagwa by the regional bloc following various reports of human rights violations under his watch.
At the top of this month, opposing political parties and civic groups called on the SADC and the African Union (AU) to drop brotherhood approach which is preventing them from effectively dealing with threats to peace and security in Zimbabwe.
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa said the SADC and AU should stand with brutalised civilians.
“Zanu PF government is behaving like spoilt brats who expect a tap on the back for murdering unarmed civilians, just like they did during Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina and successive election violence unleashed on poor citizens,” Maphosa said.
“Zapu calls on the Sadc and AU to drop the brotherhood approach on the criminals in Harare and act to rescue a desperate nation on the edge of civil unrest. The international community through the United Nations has an obligation to rescue Zimbabwe from the marauding criminals.”
Habakkuk Trust director Dumisani Nkomo said SADC and AU condone dictators.
“Sadc and AU must strengthen the application of continental covenants on democracy and ensure adherence and appropriate punitive measures for members that fail to adhere,” he said.
Mthwakazi Republic Party president Mqondisi Moyo said SADC and AU have let Africans down.
“The countries of Africa are afraid to criticise each other even in the face of gross human rights abuses because of lack of shared common agenda and the fact that most of them are tainted with corruption and improper governance. These bodies are only concerned with political stability which affects them directly, rather than human rights issues which affect the general citizenry of Zimbabwe,” Moyo said.
“It is unfortunate that this impractical patriotism is slowly eroding on the relevance of Sadc and AU in dealing with the ills of Zimbabwe and other African issues. They have become an old men’s social club and they are useless.”
MDC-T spokesperson Linda Masarira said her party appreciates the need for both SADC and AU to play an objective and effective peer review role among member states.
But Church and Civic Society Joint Forum chairman Anglistone Sibanda told Newsday that the SADC and AU were formed to promote brotherhood.
“The challenge with the current situation is that the organisers of the protests failed to be smart in their risk analysis. They were sacrificing ordinary, angry and frustrated masses hoping to achieve some normative leverage and international sympathy from Sadc and AU forgetting that those institutions have always been about brotherhood. By getting violent, looting, burning cars, killing police officers, they lost the plot and fell into a trap. The government got something to justify its actions before these brotherhood institutions,” Sibanda said.
Some SADC and AU member states, particularly former liberation movements, have since openly supported the Zanu PF administration.
Last year, SADC and AU were widely criticised for endorsing the disputed July 30 polls as free, fair and credible, despite other international missions pointing out the misuse of State resources, coercion and intimidation, partisan behaviour by traditional leaders and evident bias by the State media.
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