FRANCISTOWN: Regional bloc, SADC that has been accused of remaining completely silent in the wake of the recent unrest in Zimbabwe, has finally broken its silence.
The regional bloc has often been accused of maintaining quiet diplomacy while Zimbabweans suffered at the hands of a ‘brutal regime’.
Since the beginning of the year Zimbabwe has experienced unrest, but SADC has largely remained silent on the situation.
According to reports and rights groups 12 people have been killed in the wake of January’s 150% petrol price hike, which sparked mass street protests.
Police in Zimbabwe have also launched a manhunt for some individuals the government believes spearheaded the unrest.
SADC said it condemns in the strongest terms the violence that has ensued in Zimbabwe following the hike in fuel prices.
“The SADC Heads of State and Government also noted that in an effort to address the economic challenges in the country, the [Zimbabwean] 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,” read a statement released by SADC yesterday.
SADC further noted that the Zimbabwean government’s efforts to transform the economy and bring about prosperity to the people of Zimbabwe are negatively affected by the sanctions that were imposed on the country
“SADC expresses its solidarity with the government and the people of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and calls upon the international community to unconditionally lift all sanctions imposed on the country.”
The SADC Heads of State also urged the Zimbabwean government and all stakeholders to engage in dialogue with a view to strengthening economic transformation, and calls upon all stakeholders to support the process.
Last week an international relations expert who is also a lecturer at University of Botswana Dr Gladys Mokhawa urged SADC to break its silence on Zimbabwe.
“SADC has been unable to have a strong coherent position on Zimbabwe. Their so-called constructive engagement that they call quiet diplomacy has clearly failed to secure sustainable solutions for Zimbabwe. A change in approach is not only necessary but urgent,” Mokhawa said.
The country’s opposition party the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) also urged the regional body to speak on the situation in Zimbabwe. The UDC also urged SADC to help create conditions for peace and stability in Zimbabwe.
“We further call on the Western governments to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe and support all constructive and genuine reform programmes in the country,” a statement from the UDC read.
Mokhawa’s views and the position of the UDC were widely echoed by various opposition parties and other stakeholders across SADC.