Zimbabweans deserves our solidarity in their hour of need

AFTER installing South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as AU Commission’s supremo at the AU summit this month, the leaders of our region will hunker down for the SADC summit next month to consider issues pertaining to regional development and (human) security.\r\n

One of the perennial questions, which will loom large at this summit is the Zimbabwean crisis. This crisis, which goes back to the year 2000, will need a Promethean action from the heads of state and government. It is time to deliver now. In this regard, it was refreshing, during Botswana President’s recent visit that President Hifikepunye Pohamba made the pertinent point that instability in one of the country’s of the region affects the region as a whole. Here we must give our President full marks because this observation fits the Zimbabwean crisis like a glove.

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We can state without any fear of contradiction that the long running crisis in our neighbouring country has not only caused a drastic decline in the economic fortunes of that country but also occasioned human insecurity and an incessant political paralysis. True, notionally there is a Government of National Unity (GNU) but this appears to brew more conflict than the business for which it was created in the first place which is to prepare the country for free, fair and credible elections. SADC is the guarantor of this process, which is intended to return the country to normalcy beyond the present “marriage of inconvenience”. It is for these reasons that the August summit provides our leaders with yet another opportunity to grasp the nettle of difficult choices in the Zimbabwean drama.

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This past week a delegation of Zimbabweans under the banner of “Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition” visited our country to interact with a cross-section of Namibians on obstacles in the way of implementing the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which is SADC’s roadmap to elections in that country. These interlocutors were from government, political parties and civil society. The purpose of their visit was to implore us all to exercise whatever influence we have over Harare to stop the haggling over the incomplete process of constitution drafting and move with deliberate speed so Zimbabweans can commence with the important business of elections. After all that is what the GPA is all about; and which GNU should be working towards single-mindedly.

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For us in Namibia, Zimbabwe is not a distant problem. It is our important neighbour but also a country, which was there for us in our hour of need. Harare was a site of many key meetings from which emanated key declarations on the liberation struggle in southern Africa. Zimbabwe’s plight is, therefore, our business. In this case we have no option but to be our brothers’ keepers. We can therefore not afford to be consumed in our false self-importance to forget the important values of solidarity and the duty to care.

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Zimbabwe presents us with an African problem we cannot afford to wish away. As a matter of fact the numerous protocols we signed up under SADC commit us, as a region, to make it our business and require of all parties to play ball. Our failure to act and act decisively provides room for others with ulterior motives to get involved and render outcomes which serve their rather than our best interests. We have witness so much of these on our continent recently that it will be foolish of our leaders to allow the unnecessary drift in Zimbabwe.

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It is for these reasons that the SADC summit of next month should not only take stock of the (slow) pace of the implementation of GPA in Zimbabwe but crucially bring the process back on track so as the conclude the constitution making as soon as possible. It is therefore important that this summit brings all Zimbabwean principals of GPA to re-commit themselves to GPA’s full and unfettered implementation. This will allow for early elections, hopefully, next year, which will give that country a government with a clear mandate of the electorate.

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This will put an end to consuming so much time on trivia and the government can begin to address the backlog of development and challenges of human insecurity, which have become the hallmarks since 2000. It is for these reasons that the visit of the “Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition” to our country was of benefit to us all.

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In the manifold crises popping up daily on the continent our leaders and our regional institutions have a choice: either they can be relevant by genuinely helping to seek solutions for our problems or we can adopt the infantile position of forever being bystanders. The world is not going to stop waiting for us to rise from our slumber. They will impose their solutions and move on with the business of living. And it is perhaps for this reason that the putative election of Dlamini-Zuma to the head of the moribund AU must be a welcome development.

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Our own regional organisation – SADC- will also only survive and be of relevance to the extend that it is in tune with the demands of our citizens and able also to grasp the rapidly changing global environment. It cannot continue to be an old boys club (our apologies to President Banda) where they regale each other with latest chicanery to perpetuate their staying power in office.

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The upcoming SADC summit may be crucial for this and many other reasons to turn around the ship of Zimbabwe before it sinks faster than the Titanic. The visit by the “Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition” group again makes the point that the leaders of the region will need to hear the many voices and actors interested in an immediate resolution of the Zimbabwean situation. And as they pack their bags for the summit, the leaders will do well to remember that SADC’s intervention is not a life support system for one or the other political interest.

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The essence of the SADC Treaty signed here in Windhoek in 1992 is to mould common values for all in the region. These values, among others, include governments elected through free and fair elections. It is for this reasons that as citizens of SADC we are all guarantors of the Zimbabwean national indaba. We believe our leaders will therefore act in the best interest of our people. We are all Zimbabweans.

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Tsudao Immanuel Gurirab went into exile with Namibia’s SWAPO and earned a diploma from the United Nations Institute for Namibia in Lusaka, Zambia in 1982, B.A. in economics from the University of Sussex in 1984 and M.A. in Development Studies from the University of Manchester in 1986. In 2002, Gurirab earned a M.A. in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Namibia/Institute of Social Sciences in The Hague, Netherlands.

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