Zimbabwe must stop undermining SADC and African Union

Zimbabwe should be condemned for taking Africa’s dirty linen to European countries, whom we often accuse of interfering in African affairs.

It is very disappointing to see Zimbabwe, the “breadbasket of Africa”, starting a war with Zambia over nothing.

Zimbabwe should be condemned for undermining the regional institution, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the African Union (AU) and taking Africa’s dirty linen to European countries, whom we often accuse of interfering in our affairs in individual African countries.

The current diplomatic standoff between Zambia and Zimbabwe was started by Zimbabwe’s leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in what seems to be mere rumour-mongering.

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There is no intelligence to suggest that Zambia has housed the US military in their country. There are various dispute mechanisms – through either SADC or AU – in which Zimbabwe could have registered their security concerns, which were going to be dealt with by relevant bodies.

Why invite outsiders to Africa’s problems? Zimbabwe took this matter to the US but was ignored.

They then reported it to Russia, which is fighting Ukraine over accusations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisations’ (Nato) expansion in that country.

Mnangagwa understands that SADC and AU have not held his authoritarian party, ZanuPF, accountable for all the atrocities they’ve been perpetuating in Zimbabwe since 1980.

Others could claim the human rights violations began in 2000, when white farmers were violently forced off, or killed on their farms by the state-sponsored programme known as the “Third Chimurenga”.

Despite all these atrocities, SADC and AU kept quiet and claimed they are supposed to respect the sovereignty of every country.

It is this coziness with these dictators in the Zanu-PF that continues to enable them to see Zimbabwe as its fiefdom and does not care that millions of their residents are crossing over the crocodile-infested Limpopo River to have a better life in the neighbouring South Africa – where they are, at times, at odds with the locals over scarce resources.

It is so bad that Zanu-PF has been accused of stealing or rigging elections and imprisoning their political opponents, but African countries continue to congratulate the party, instead of cutting ties with them until they change their ways.

In 2008, Zimbabwe accused Botswana of training insurgents, claiming to have had evidence, but such was never revealed.

In their world, Zanu-PF believes that every country should not have a relationship with Western powers. In 2019, Zimbabwe accused Botswana of hosting or housing a US military base without any substance, even when Botswana dismissed their allegations.

They continue rumour-mongering without proving their claims. To date, Zanu-PF has not given us a reason to believe Botswana is housing any foreign military activities.

This is a dangerous claim that other demagogues, such as Fikile Mbalula and Julius Malema, believed and are still believing.

It is disappointing that countries in SADC, such as Mozambique, Zambia, South Africa and Botswana, and others are doing well in managing their economies, while Zimbabwe is still trapped in a fighting mood.

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The government has proven that it is not interested in improving its domestic institutions to stop their citizens from leaving the country.

Instead, they want to plunge their country into a war SADC won’t afford. If the concern is real, why is Zanu-PF not using its proximity to SA to intervene on the issue between them and Lusaka? The claims by Harare are not serious.

But Mnangagwa knows what he is doing. He wants the allegedly corrupt former leader of Zambia, Edgar Lungu, to win the next elections and replace president Hakainde Hichilema, who has grown the economy and fought corruption in the public sector.

Mnangagwa is not happy that Hichilema is building the Zambia that Kenneth Kaunda wanted, but could not deliver. Under Hichilema, Zambia is offering free primary and secondary level education.

He has helped to restore the rule of law, as well as relationships with international political actors, something that Zimbabwe does not know.

The new administration in SA should change its tune when dealing with Zimbabwe. It cannot be business as usual when between four and seven million Zimbabweans have left their country.

Something has got to give. SA will have to instil accountability in the Zimbabwean government and force them to change their crooked ways.

• Mokgatlhe is an independent political analyst

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