THE Southern African Development Community (Sadc) is closely engaged on the Zimbabwe situation behind the scenes amid a frantic diplomatic lobby to boldly confront the country’s post-election crisis which has divided the nation and the region, while attracting international attention.
This follows a report by the Sadc Election Observer Mission headed by Zambian politician Nevers Mumba which rejected Zimbabwe’s recent shambolic elections outcome.
This sparked a fierce diplomatic row between Zambians and Zimbabweans. There are various secret consultations and lobbying going on to ensure the troika of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation meets before an extraordinary summit of the heads of state to deal with the Zimbabwe crisis.
The Sadc troika is constituted by Namibia, Zambia and Tanzania. Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema is the chair.
The Sadc troika of the summit entails the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, Angola, the current chair, and Zimbabwe, incoming chair.
After the Zimbabwean situation, the organ troika will also deal with upcoming elections in Eswatini in September, Madagascar in November, DRC in December, South Africa in 2024 and Botswana next year.
The Mumba mission says the outcome of Zimbabwe’s chaotic elections did not meet the country’s constitution, electoral law and the Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
This has caused a storm of political rhetoric, name-calling and threats between Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF and government officials and Zambian officials who took great exception to what Harare said about their leaders.
There have been public confrontations between Zimbabwe and Zambia over the issue. After Mumba released his preliminary report rejecting the outcome of Zimbabwe’s elections, Zanu PF has gone on a rampage attacking him and Hichilema.
Some of Zanu PF’s political heavyweights who have been involved in the ugly fight include War Veterans minister Chris Mutsvangwa, party treasurer-general Patrick Chinamasa and Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.
Zambian provincial minister for the Copperbelt Elisha Matambo has been drawn into the fight, accusing Chinamasa of admitting to killing the late Zambian leader Levy Mwanawasa and plotting to kill Hichilema. Matambo says they must proactively be stopped.
Zanu PF sympathiser Rutendo Matinyarare, known for peddling pathologically false theories and lies on politics from his South African base, was accused by Zambian authorities of undermining their sovereignty and security after he claimed Mwanawasa was assassinated because he had tried to help the British to invade Zimbabwe when he was Sadc chair.
Mwanawasa died in 2008 after an ugly fight with the late former president Robert Mugabe over the protracted Zimbabwe crisis. Chinamasa hit back at Matambo, saying his allegations that he had admitted to killing Mwanawasa and plotting to take out Hichilema were false, malicious and highly defamatory.
Despite Zimbabwe’s noisy reaction, the Sadc report has been adopted by Hichilema and his troika. Sadc leaders agree with the report, which is why most of them stayed away from Mnangagwa’s recent inauguration.
Only three of them came to Harare. A senior official from the Sadc headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana, said: “What I know is that there was supposed to be a virtual organ troika meeting this week, on Tuesday or Wednesday. Hichilema, who was on a state visit to China, was in touch with the Sadc chair, Angolan President Joao Lourenco.
“The agenda of the meeting is clear: Zimbabwe’s election final report and Eswatini elections which are upcoming. The troika was also supposed to look into Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s petition to Sadc, together with that of Saviour Kasukuwere, who was disqualified from contesting the recent presidential election.
“I am advised that in addition to Kasukuwere and Chamisa’s petitions, the Sadc secretariat has received numerous letters from other organisations in Zimbabwe all with evidence of Zec and Zanu PF election law breaches.
“Most heads of state are happy with the Sadc report; that’s why they diplomatically did not attend the inauguration. Based on the findings of the engagement, there are various suggestions on the table including a Government of National Unity and an election re-run. The scenarios are difficult to determine as there are various meetings and negotiations going on. “I am advised Mnangagwa has a copy of the final report of the Sadc election observer mission.
“Apparently, according to Sadc, if the issue is not resolved, Mnangagwa can’t assume Sadc chairmanship next year in August. Interestingly, Mnangagwa and his team think if he becomes chair, they will kill the report and stop any attempt to discuss Zimbabwe. So it’s a political game of thrones.”