Fresh from the humiliation of his Zanu PF party losing the election for the much coveted Speaker of Parliament post, Mugabe arrived in Zambia expecting the usual softly soft approach from his peers in the SADC grouping. But even his closest ally, South African President Jacob Zuma, was uncompromising.
A regional diplomatic offensive by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai just shortly before the summit seemed to have paid dividends. Tsvangirai travelled to and met the leaders of Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa and Namibia respectively, briefing them on Mugabe’s crackdown.
During the summit in Livingstone, Zuma and other leaders cornered Mugabe over his refusal to implement sections of his political agreement with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The summit also took place just days after Zuma held a private meeting with Tsvangirai at his Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, home.
One diplomat told a Zimbabwean publication Nehanda Radio that SADC leaders showed their impatience with Mugabe’s antics and were demanding that he abide by their decisions. It was little wonder after the summit SADC issued a strongly worded statement expressing its impatience with the impasse in Zimbabwe.
“The summit noted with grave concern the polarisation of the political environment as characterized by, inter alia, resurgence of violence, arrest and intimidation in Zimbabwe,” the statement said.
“There must be an immediate end of violence, intimidation, hate speech, harassment, and any other form of action that contradicts the letter and spirit” of the unity accord,’ it added.
But an angry Mugabe on Friday accused the SADC grouping of trying to interfere in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs. On Friday he told a Zanu-PF central committee meeting in Harare:
“The facilitator is the facilitator and must facilitate dialogue. (Zuma) cannot prescribe anything. We prescribe what we should do in accordance with our own laws and our agreement. The (opposition) MDC thinks SADC or the African Union can prescribe to us how we run our things.” – Nehanda Radio