SADC loses patience with ZANU PF, bares knuckles

OPINION – The last week of March 2011 is one that ZANU PF would like to forget quickly. Before even recovering from the prodigious loss in parliament, SADC, untypically, came down heavily on the former revolutionary but now moribund party in Livingstone, Zambia.

There are times when gods will simply turn their backs on you. For ZANU PF, this was one such moment. Some would say “it never rains”. 

Prior to the troika summit, several analysts had predicted the regional body would do as it has always done; pretend that it was business as usual in Harare and divert attention to events elsewhere on the continent such as Libya and Ivory Coast. I imagine that many were both surprised and humbled by the troika communiqué which sounded more like the riot act.

Without mincing their words, regional leaders, for the very first time in a decade, admitted that there was violence, intimidation, harassment and politically-motivated arrests in Zimbabwe that should stop forthwith. ZANU PF was stunned as it had hoped that this was going to be another “routine meeting” where leaders would drink tea, coffee and whisky, pause for photographs then issue a flaccid statement on the last day before flying back home.  

Anybody who has been following the crisis in Zimbabwe will agree that the message and tone of the communiqué was directed at none other than Mugabe and his party. The communiqué also demonstrates that days of quiet diplomacy are now becoming a thing of the past. Thabo Mbeki, the notorious architect of the unpopular phenomenon, must realise that his covert project is now at the morgue, waiting to be buried or cremated. Like Nepad, quiet diplomacy will soon disappear from our vocabulary. 

Cognisant of events in North Africa, Middle East and Ivory Coast, regional leaders had no other viable option. The MDC President and Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, deserves credit for exercising unparalleled patience in the past ten years, particularly during the last two as he attempted frantically to convince SADC that it wasn’t him and MDC that were at fault but indeed ZANU PF and its leadership. His recent round trip in the region was not an exercise in futility. 

ZANU PF has perfected the art of scoring own goals of late. Utterances by president Mugabe when he arrived back in Harare from Livingstone is yet another classic goal of the week. If the idea was to demonstrate to the world that “we are amadoda sibili”, then these are comments the party will live to regret. At a time when they need friends more than ever before, the party seems to be on a serious crusade to discredit itself even within traditional friendships. Those who used to blindly back ZANU PF are now beginning to realise how wrong they were. Ian Khama has now been vindicated. Turning in his grave, Mwanawasa must be saying “I told you” 

Telling SADC to go to hell at this crucial juncture is political suicide. What Mugabe conveniently forgets is that GNU, hence his own legitimacy, is a creation of SADC. Pretending not to know this is like biting the hand that feeds you. At the risk of sounding sarcastic, we must say to SADC “this serves you right” We have always moaned that ZANU PF was not bonafide in terms of creating a stable, fair and democratic Zimbabwe. This is a message that has been falling on deaf ears for more than a decade. Like the biblical Saul, the regional body was eventually struck by lighting in Livingstone last week, now they think and act like Paul. The good thing is that there is never a wrong time to do the right thing. 

Those who think that sovereignty is about stealing elections, brutalising political opponents, arresting innocent citizens, force-marching people to attend political re-education meetings and flagrantly violating the GPA, must reflect seriously on the Livingstone communiqué.  Literally, gloves have now come off. It is folly for ZANU PF to get into a fight where defeat is a certainly. But with advisors like Jonathan Moyo, what can one expect?