SADC Resolutions on Zimbabwe"¦repeated Barks but no bite?

At its Heads of States Summit in Maputo on the 17th and 18th of August 2012, SADC made resolutions on Zimbabwe based on a report submitted (which they adopted) to the summit by the facilitator of the Zimbabwean Political Dialogue, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. The summit noted progress in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed by Zimbabwean political leaders in 2008, and urged signatories to the GPA to develop a road map with timelines that were guided by the requirements necessary for the adoption of the new constitution. The Summit also resolved that if there were any difficulties with regards to the constitution and implementation of agreements, the facilitator would be called up to engage with the parties and assist them to resolve such issues.

The resolutions, which do not signify any backward shift on the part of SADC with regards to its position on Zimbabwe, are largely welcome, but the fact that similar resolutions have been passed summit after summit by SADC, without being adhered to by the Zimbabwean protagonists, has begun to raise questions around whether there is any bite behind these SADC Barks. The question arises from the fact that SADC has not moved beyond this encouragement of Zimbabwe political parties to fully implement the GPA. Their resolutions while progressive have not been supported by possible enforcement mechanisms, clear time lines and accountability trails.

SADC has time and time again been faced with flagrant disregard of their resolutions, and lack of implementation of agreements that they have brokered between Zimbabwean Political actors including those that have been constitutionalised in the Zimbabwean Constitution. Given this reality, one would be forgiven to think that that SADC ought to have other tools, besides encouragement, to assist with enforcement of their resolutions and agreements that they have guaranteed. Zimbabwe's case, however, has proved that this is a clear area of deficiency and weakness on the part of this Southern African based Regional Economic Community.


The Zimbabwean reality is that none of the parties to the GPA were willing entrants into the arrangement, and not all of them want to see it work. That being the case, SADC as guarantor of the agreements and the regional force that assists with conferring legitimacy to our governing arrangements should be in a position to enhance their handholding mechanisms on the Zimbabwean political agreement through an effective presence on the ground that monitors full implementation and adherence to the GPA and its resolutions.


The reality that SADC troika and summit resolutions from Livingston, Sandton, Windhoek, Luanda and Maputo have been a tautology of themselves surely is an indicator that resolving and encouraging alone is not enough. As we approach the next elections, which by SADC's own resolutions should take place by June 2013, there is need for some radical surgery in terms of approach by both the SADC Facilitation team and the SADC institution itself. The only way that SADC can become effectual on the Zimbabwean question is through adding some bite to their resolution barks. Without meaningful pressure, and without meaningful action that increases the costs of intransigency, we do not see the Zimbabwean Political actors moving an inch on their recalcitrant positions that are contra the Global Political Agreement and Ultra vires the numerous SADC resolutions. If the political costs of intransigency by ZANU-PF (which is largely responsible for failing to honour its commitment to reform) are not increased by the region, then with certainty the intransigency will continue.   We believe that SADC should make it clear that there will be consequences for failing to adhere to the terms of the election road map and the GPA. SADC leaders should also press the governments of Zimbabwe to respect fully the fundamental rights crucial for free and fair elections under the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. SADC's principles and guidelines should be more than inspiring language on paper but should be promoted and implemented by member countries.

We have cautioned before that the pedigree and reputation of SADC as a credible regional arbiter in times of conflict rests on what it does in the cases on its desk at the moment, like Madagascar and Zimbabwe. We have also cautioned before that beyond SADC itself, what it does on Zimbabwe will enhance or destroy the efficacy of the notion of "African Solutions to African problems €. We believe that with full intent, SADC can present more credible remedies for Zimbabwe. While we commend efforts invested so far by SADC, and have clapped hands for President Zuma and his team's resilience in the face of debilitating insults and open opposition from some elements in ZANU PF, we contend that more still needs to and can be done.


Given Zimbabwe's electoral history and the calamities brought on the country in 2008, we believe that Zimbabwe is powder keg waiting to explode if more effectual action around reforms ahead of elections and the referendum are not taken. To act as if it is business as usual in SADC, is to light a fire in their own eye as SADC. The regional body needs to move away from resolutions that are all show but no substance where Zimbabwe is concerned. SADC needs, of necessity to add some barks to their bite. Otherwise the Zimbabwean issue for SADC can be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

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