Monday, 13 June 2011
Interpretation of the SADC communiqué on Zimbabwe
The SADC summit to discuss the political impasse in Zimbabwe held in Sandton, South Africa has come and gone. The three political parties in the Global Political Agreement Zimbabwe went to the SADC summit with different demands and expectations. The Tsvangirai MDC-T political party with the backing of a host of NGO sponsored civil society organisations that included the Crisis Coalition descended on SADC to demand, firstly, the endorsement of the SADC Organ Troika resolution held in Livingstone, Zambia in March 2011. Secondly, they were demanding that the full SADC summit of heads of states and governments to include in its deliberations the issue of security sector reforms and thirdly a definitive timeline for elections in Zimbabwe beyond 2011.
On the issue of the security sector reform, we all know what happened to that. Besides it being not an issue not covered in the GPA agreement, it seemed overtly ambitious for the Tsvangirai outfit to think for a minute that the SADC summit would entertain such preposterous demands. The issue of the security sector is a national security matter way beyond the mandate of SADC. The matter is so sensitive that it raises sovereignty issues.
On the first issue, it is not a secret that the resolution of the SADC Organ Troika of March 2011 in Livingstone was based on the inaccuracies of a report presented to it by the Morgan Tsvangirai MDC-T, which among other things misled the organ to believe that Zimbabwe was under some kind of military rule and that the Zimbabwe government was no longer in charge. This of course resulted in a flawed communiqué from the Organ Troika in Livingstone, Zambia in March.
ZANU PF also had its own set of demands. Notably, the party pointed out to the SADC leaders the ambit of the Global Political Agreement mandate when it came to issues that include the demands for security sector reforms. This was never part of the Global Political Agreement. Secondly, ZANU PF was seeking guidance from SADC with regard to the issue of elections. This requirement for guidance was premised on the basis that the Global Political Agreement that was originally agreed to last for twenty four months had since expired and hence according to the agreement, elections were now overdue.
And thirdly and most importantly, the Livingstone troika summit resolution had deliberately written out the issue of the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe. It was this resolution that did not mention the sanctions issues as an outstanding issue to be fulfilled by the MDC-T outfit that they clamoured for its adoption and endorsement.
It is in this context and background that the three principals of the Global Political Agreement went to the SADC in Sandton, South Africa. In the latest SADC summit Communiqué, dated the 12th of June 2011, the issue of the SADC Troika communiqué, how it was received by the full SADC summit of heads of state and governments has received multiple interpretations. In particular item 22 in the resolution has been subject to misinterpretation:
22. Summit noted the decisions of the Organ Troika Summit held in Livingstone, Zambia in March 2011.
In some form of desperation, there are those from the Morgan Tsvangirai camp who got so frustrated by the failure of the full SADC summit of heads of States and governments to endorse the Livingstone summit resolutions that they have now resorted to redefining words, resolutions to suit their own ends.
Listening to an online pirate radio station some , ‘political analysts’ being interviewed were at pains trying to equate or run parallels between the word ‘noted’ with ‘endorsed’. Any Zimbabwe Junior certificate student will easily tell you the difference between the words, noted and endorsed. A standard dictionary will tell you that when something is said to have been noted it merely means something that is ‘worthy of notice, something worthy of ‘attention ‘nothing substantive.
When you endorse something it means you ‘support’ that thing. An endorsement is an act of approval. It is a qualifying comment. It is often when something is endorsed a signature is required. Now, for someone to say with no equivocation that the SADC summit endorsed the Livingstone summit resolution by using the word ‘noted’ is not only foolish but thoroughly irresponsible. The bottom line is that the SADC summit heads of state and governments saw through the shenanigans of the Tsvangirai outfit at Livingstone. In particular President Jacob Zuma saw through the games played by the MDC-T outfit. The fact that he requested to meet President Robert Mugabe a day before the SADC summit is instructive.
Another issue that seems to have either escaped or has been ignored by the pirate radio stations is the issue of the sanctions. This had been written out of the Livingstone troika resolution of March 2011. The SADC summit of the head of states and government resolution of Sandton, South Africa brought it back in under points 29-31.
29. Summit recalled its decision taken during the Extraordinary Summit in Windhoek, Namibia in August 2010, mandating the Chairperson of SADC, the Chairperson of the Organ, SADC Facilitator for the Zimbabwe Political Dialogue assisted by the Secretariat to undertake the mission to the United Kingdom, United States of America and the European Union.
30. Summit received a Report on the mission and noted its recommendations.
31. Summit committed to continue dialogue with the western powers on the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
This alone is a major victory for the ZANU PF party in that the MDC-T party has been asked working together with SADC to make sure that they fulfill their part under the GPA agreement. Most importantly to make sure that they engage with their western sponsors to have the sanctions lifted if Zimbabwe is to have free and fair elections. If the sanctions are lifted, the issue of the timeline for elections will no longer be of any significance.
So, however you look or read the June 12, SADC summit resolution, the MDC-T party remains the beast of burden. The burden they have is to make sure the sanctions go before the next election, failure which they would have failed or neglected to discharge their responsibility towards the Global Political Agreement.