President takes reins of Sadc

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President Mugabe confers on Sheila Mbita, on behalf of her father Retired Brigadier-General Hashim Mbita, the Munhumutapa Order of Merit in Victoria Falls yesterday. — (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)

Morris Mkwate  in Victoria Falls
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday took over the Sadc chairmanship and will over the next year lead Southern Africa in its quest to achieve economic and social transformation.
He took over the reins from Professor Peter Mutharika of Malawi as Zimbabwe transitioned from being on the Sadc agenda for six years to leading the regional group for the next three years.

Zimbabwe was on the agenda of Sadc since March 31, 2007 when the bloc met at an extraordinary Summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where former South African president Cde Thabo Mbeki was tasked to mediate inter-party dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC formations culminating in the inclusive Government and subsequent harmonised elections on July 31 last year.

As deputy chair of the bloc, Zimbabwe was a member of the Summit Troika from August 2013 to August this year; as chairperson, Zimbabwe leads the Summit Troika till August next year; and as immediate-past chair will be a member of the Organ Troika till August 2016.

The President received the Sadc Chair’s badge from President Peter Mutharika of Malawi at the opening of the bloc’s 34th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government to mark the start of his tenure.

Thirteen leaders from the 15-member grouping witnessed the colourful ceremony, which brought together over 700 delegates among them Cabinet ministers, African Union Commission Chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Sadc Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, legislators, service chiefs and diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe.

President Michael Sata of Zambia and his Angolan counterpart Jose Eduardo dos Santos were represented by their deputies.

In 2007, SADC mandated South Africa, through then President Thabo Mbeki, to mediate talks between Zanu-PF and two MDC formations in a bid to ensure political stability in the country.

The talks — later steered by Mr Mbeki’s successors, Kgalema Motlante and Jacob Zuma — culminated in the formation of the inclusive Government in 2009.

The regional group consistently reviewed the political situation in Zimbabwe and Harare only ceased to be a Sadc agenda item following the July 31, 2013 harmonised elections resoundingly won by President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

It was after that victory that President Mugabe became Sadc Deputy Chair at the Summit in Malawi last year, paving the way for his elevation to the Chairmanship here yesterday.

The President will lead the region for a year under the theme “Sadc Strategy for Economic Transformation — Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition”.

Accepting the post, President Mugabe said: “I feel humbled, and yet greatly honoured, at being appointed the Chairman of Sadc. Being Sadc Chair is an honour to me personally, and to the Government and people of Zimbabwe…

“As Zimbabwe, we look forward to making our contribution to the Sadc agenda, and are confident that we can ensure that the region focuses on interventions that have the greatest impact on the wellbeing of our citizens.”

The President thanked Sadc for supporting Zimbabwe through difficult times, including those brought on by illegal Western sanctions.

SADC first condemned the sanctions in 2007 and has maintained its position on the matter to date.

President Mugabe also expressed gratitude to Frontline leaders who helped liberate Africa from colonialism, and advocated greater  recognition for Tanzania’s Founding President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who hosted liberation movements in his country.

He criticised Westerners for wanting to oversee elections in Africa, saying only states on the continent and “our friends” should be allowed to supervise polls.

“We thank SADC for consistently calling for the removal of EU and Western illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe, illegal because they were not sanctioned by the UN whose effects are debilitating to our economy and to our people.

“We don’t understand why they have ever been imposed. To tell you the truth, we don’t. Neither does SADC understand. Without your support, we would not be standing on our feet today. We will remain eternally grateful for that. I say, once again, thank you SADC.

“We shall forever be grateful to Southern African countries for the sacrifices they made for Zimbabwe to be free.”

The President said Sadc should beneficiate its natural resources to ensure economic and social development, while advocating fewer and focused programmes with high implementation rates, and domestic regional funding strategies.

Regarding Israel’s continued bombardment of Gaza, the SADC Chair said the West – which claims high moral ground on human rights – was indifferent to the murder of innocent women and children and attacks on United Nations installations.

 

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  • Jindaguru

    Instead of masking Africa’s inaction towards Israel by blaming the West, let’s see Zimbabwe and SADC take the moral high ground against Israel by boycotting all Israeli goods and services. Zimbabwe could take the lead by refusing to use NIKUV facilities or Israeli diamond middlemen or imported heavy riot control vehicles?

    • Tofara tose

      Jindaguru all foreign policy is about self preservation and no SADC country would do what you are suggesting without first considering its position with Israel. You know at one time most African countries including Zimbabwe broke all diplomatic relations with Israel. Ask yourself why these were established even though Palestine is not an independent country. Ask yourself what are the benefits of Gaza to Zimbabwe. None. What would Zimbabwe benefit from boycotting Israeli goods. If it refuses to use *** or to import heavy riot control vehicles you obviously know what could happen. Zimbabwe government would not take that risk.

      • rukudzo

        We need *** skills

    • Progressive Zimbabwean

      I agree with you 100%. My 10 year old daughter was traumitised when she saw the atrocities on babies on CNN, Russia Today and Al Jazeera recently and we had to seek professional counseling for her. I think we have to make our voice clear and loud that as civilised society such actions belong to the dark ages and we do not tolerate such inhuman treatment of man by another man.

      • Mehlo

        Why let her see that ?

    • Kuta Kinte

      Iwe Jindaguru uchazvisungirira nekusada anything positive about Zimbabwe. Gara wakadaro.

    • Succuba

      I think this post went wooooosh right over a lot of peoples heads…. Ha ha ha

      Nice one…

  • raftguide

    The West has seen many, many protests re the bombing in Gaza. It is quite wrong to suggest the West is ignoring the situation there. Or is someone just out of touch with the World today?

  • Vusumuzi Bvunzawabaya

    Amhlophe ,Makorokoto Gushungo for taking the Chair. Can I send you a to-do list comrade Excellency. First can you lead the organisation with the same vigour you led them during that time you were heading the security organ. First on my to.do list
    -Corruption: Can you use your influence to banish this vice from South Africa( where the president has built a village using R250million). Can you banish this vice from Zimbabwe (resources especially diamond have a tendency of walking away with nothing coming to state coffers). And Malawi where the leaders are tempted to mis-used aid!You have complained loudly about corruption among your inner circle and have been very patient with some people. Now its time to take action to show the region you mean business.