THE upcoming Sadc summit is important for President Emmerson Mnangagwa not only because he will assume the chairmanship of the regional bloc but he will also use it attain legitimacy by, among other things, sanitising the results of last year’s chaotic general elections which were condemned by observers.

Zimbabwe will take over the rotational chair of the Southern African Development Community during the 44th summit to be held in Harare in August. Angola is the current chair.

Mnangagwa survived intense scrutiny after the August elections, with regional leaders discussing the widely condemned polls. He however escaped  partly because the main opposition CCC failed to mount a court challenge amid concerns the party failed to gather enough evidence because of a lack of polling agents.

Many observers also believed the opposition did not have a strategy to challenge the results. At one time Zambian leader  Hakainde Hichilema, the chairperson of the organ on politics, defence and security cooperation, seemed to be pushing more than the opposition.

The Sadc electoral observer mission’s report highlighted that Zimbabwe’s general elections had violated the constitution, Electoral Act and the regional body’s Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, meaning they were not free, fair and credible.

Diplomats however told The NewsHawks that electoral reports from last year will be tabled before Mnangagwa at the summit.

“This means that the Zimbabwe report is likely to be adopted with amendments. Mnangagwa is keen to sanitise the elections and get legitimacy.  With him chairing the summit, he is in prime position to do so. He also wants to be a good host and project Zimbabwe as a country moving in the right direction, that’s why he is going out of his way to spruce up roads,” said a diplomat.

Sadc leaders received the controversial election observer mission report on Zimbabwe at an extraordinary summit of heads of state and government in Luanda, Angola, on 4 November 2023 despite Harare’s attempts to ensure that polls were  off the agenda.

The summit appointed a sub-committee which included Angola, Namibia and Tanzania to handle the Zimbabwe situation, while delicate private talks were occurring within the regional grouping’s circles.

Sadc leaders had initially convened five days earlier for a virtual summit before deciding to meet in person in Luanda to discuss the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe mainly.

The summit came against a backdrop of resistance by Mnangagwa and Foreign Affairs minister Fredrick Shava to have Zimbabwe on the agenda and to be discussed at the meeting.

Sadc chair Angolan President João Lourenço and Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema warded off Mnangagwa and Shava’s pressure to remove Zimbabwe from the agenda.

Prior to the summit, the Sadc council of ministers and the troika of the organ on politics, defence and security had met virtually on 26 and 27 October respectively in Lusaka to discuss the same issues — the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.

Sadc ministers stood firm behind their election observer mission led by former Zambian vice-president Nevers Mumba who was appointed by Hichilema. He was under attack from Zanu PF and government officials.

They rejected the bile and insults directed at them by Zanu PF and government officials led by Zanu PF spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa, who was War Veterans minister at the time, and Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba.

Hichilema was privately pushing for Sadc to tackle the Zimbabwe issue amid diplomatic manoeuvres by different stakeholders involved.

Mnangagwa used the United Nations General Assembly in September last year to engage and lobby Sadc leaders who were pushing for an extraordinary summit after the electoral observer mission’s preliminary report highlighted that Zimbabwe’s general elections had violated the constitution, Electoral Act and the regional body’s Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

The final report highlighted the same concerns, meaning Zimbabwe’s elections were not free, fair and credible in the eyes of Sadc.

Chaired by Lourenço, the summit was attended by heads of state and government or their representatives: DRC President Félix Tshisekedi, President Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), President Samia Suluhu Hassan (Tanzania), Hichilema (Zambia), Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane (Lesotho), Vice-President, Nangolo Mbumba (Namibia), Dr Lemogang Kwape (Botswana), Nancy Gladys Tembo (Malawi), Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo (Mozambique), Thabisile Mlangeni (Eswatini) and Mnangagwa (Zimbabwe), among others.

“The upcoming summit will allow Mnangagwa to put to bed the controversy around the polls. He is very keen to do that,” said a diplomat. — NewsHawks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *