Once again, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) was exposed last week following a military intervention that resulted in the removal of long-time Zimbabwean ruler, Robert Mugabe.
Whilst military coups should never be tolerated anywhere in the world, what transpired in Zimbabwe in the last two weeks should teach us many lessons.
First, it is unprecedented for any country to be ruled by a liberator who would later become his people’s number one foe. Mugabe liberated Zimbabwe and ushered the country into democracy in 1980. He then presided over what was the region’s breadbasket and killed its economy with his poor policies that were self-serving instead of being beneficial to the people of Zimbabwe.
He fought a losing battle with the West at the disadvantage of Zimbabweans who appreciate that their country needs to cooperate with others to progress.
Secondly, SADC was caught between a rock and a hard place as the region struggled to appeal to Mugabe to step down after almost four decades in power. The region witnessed three general elections that could have removed Mugabe from power, but he stubbornly resisted pressure to step down despite clear signs of rigged elections.
As much as SADC is united in shunning military coup de’tats or any form of unconstitutional removal of government, it should call for uniform policies such as free press, independent judiciary, limited presidential terms, as well as good governance, amongst others.
The African Union should also emphasise the aforementioned good practices to ensure that member States have common values that promote democracy.
The people of this continent have suffered for a long time because of leaders who are more preoccupied with lining their pockets and those of their families when the majority of their people live in squalor and disease due to abject poverty and joblessness.
Such leaders also think, annoyingly, that they are more patriotic than their compatriots.
The military intervention was the last resort for Zimbabweans after it became very clear that Mugabe was preparing to transfer power to his wife without the approval of the ruling party and other stakeholders in Zimbabwe.
Even more interesting about last week’s events was that on the same day Emmerson Mnangagwa was inaugurated, the Chairperson of SADC, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma was hosting his Angolan counterpart. Does it mean that Zuma did not recognise the importance of the events in Zimbabwe, or he just doesnot recognise the new President?
We hold a strong position that the SADC chairperson should have been part of the celebrations in Zimbabwe to send a message to all and sundry that the region will not tolerate dictatorships in the future.
“Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”
- George Orwell