SADC fails the relevance test once again

From the rumbling diamond wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the political volcanos in Madagascar, and the more than a two decade political headache in Zimbabwe, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has continually failed to be the go-to organisation.

At times, in fact most of the times, it appears deliberate that SADC can turn a blind eye even to the most glaring violations within some errant members states.

The regional bloc has earned a reputation as a self-serving old boys club, where even the most brutal regimes are mollycoddled. Laurent Kabila appeared untouchable until the DRC had to concoct a home grown solution, while Madagascar and Lesotho have been on the SADC agenda on countless times, but the persisting volatile situations in these countries, point to an organisation, either by coincidence or design, that is bereft of solutions.

SADC meetings have turned into talk shops, where friendships formed by the Frontline States are reaffirmed, deliberately paying scant attention to the dynamics of present day politics.  In most SADC countries, liberation movements are still in charge, and the bond has proved difficult to break. SADC has been complicit in many human rights violations committed in member states, through adopting a ‘see evil, but don’t act on evil’ approach.


The organisation’s blind eye has proved lethal. Only those within SADC appear oblivious to the dangers of adopting such a retrogressive approach.

The region is crying for a more dynamic, and people-centric organisation; an organisation that heeds the cries of its southern African citizenry, and is in sync with modern day international best practices on democracy. Unfortunately, SADC has stayed irrelevant.

Delegates gathered at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) to witness the launch of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission were shocked that the head of the mission, was a purveyor of rigged elections.

Botswana has a near impeccable record in holding free and fair elections, but SADC, through its organ on Politics, Defence and Security, allowed, what many perceive to be the region’s black sheep, Zimbabwe, to head the observer mission that will monitor next Wednesday’s general elections. 

For those vested with SADC operations, it is hardly surprising to allow Zimbabwe, a country that has a dubious record in holding free and fair elections, to monitor the Botswana vote.

It is now almost an acceptable assumption, that the 2008 presidential plebiscite was rigged, with scores of Zimbabweans murdered, while others were left homeless.

But SADC declared the poll, free and fair, amid lifeless bodies and burnt homes. SADC has proved that it does not want to rock the boat, even when the situation demands.

And this week, by allowing Zimbabwe to head the observer mission, SADC, just as it has done on several occasions, has fluffed another glorious sloughing opportunity.

It is now up to Batswana, to carry the torch, as they have done in 11 other elections since independence, and conduct another peaceful and credible process on October 23.

Today’s thought

“The most essential quality for leadershipis not perfection but credibility. People must be able to trust you.”

– Rick Warren

Editor's Comment
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