SADC CALLS FOR AFRICAN UNITY, LIFTING OF WESTERN SANCTIONS AGAINST ZIMBABWE
Regional organization criticizes Rwanda for interference in DRC
Newly-elected African Union Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has called for the continent to unite in order to move toward genuine development and social equality. These remarks were made at a regional summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in Maputo, Mozambique on August 16-17.
“Therefore, a strong, dynamic and symbiotic relationship between the African Union Commission and the regional economic communities is critical for the integration and development of Africa. This in turn requires the development of common standards and the harmonization of legislation and other steps being taken within and between economic communities,” Dlamini-Zuma told the gathering of leaders from throughout the sub-continent. (South African Press Association, August 20)
Dlamini-Zuma, a former Minister of Home Affairs in the African National Congress (ANC) government in the Republic of South Africa, also emphasized the role of women in the overall development strategy of the region. She noted that women make up over 50 percent of the African population and that no real progress can be made without gender liberation.
“Women must be involved more meaningfully in the economy. We should also ensure they have access to, amongst others, training, skills development, technology, land and financing.”
The AU Commission Chair placed African unity as a precursor to the successful resolution of all of the problems impacting the continent including climate change, food and water security and disease control. According to Dlamini-Zuma, “The continent has abundant human resources. We have a young population whilst the developed world has an aging population.”
Additional emphasis was placed on the need for self-reliance. “As long as donor contributions are the mainstay of our development, we will not achieve our own identified priorities. They (the youth) should celebrate us for having bequeathed to them a better Africa than that which we found.”
Zimbabwe Supported in Sanctions Fight
For well over a decade the Republic of Zimbabwe has been subjected to economic sanctions leveled against them by Britain, the United States, the European Union and Australia. The sanctions stem from the desire on the part of Zimbabwe to empower African farmers through a land redistribution process that created tens of thousands of small-to-medium sized farms through land confiscated from European-settlers.
The Europeans were the recipients of African land and resources as a result of the advent of British colonialism which took hold of Zimbabwe during the latter years of the 19th century. Since 2000, the Zimbabwe government has been vilified by the corporate media outlets and governments in the capitalist states.
Even prior to the convening of the SADC Summit in Mozambique, participants were demanding that these imperialist countries lift the sanctions against Zimbabwe. The sanctions have had a crippling impact on the national economy of the country.
Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane said that “We call for the lifting of all sanctions against Zimbabwe. The time has come that African leaders make that call strongly.” (SAnews.gov.za, August 17)
Zimbabwe since 2008 has established a Global Political Agreement (GPA) which brought both the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front party (ZANU-PF) into a coalition government with the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions. At the time of the GPA the economy in Zimbabwe was suffering immensely from the imposition of sanctions by the imperialist states.
Although the economy in Zimbabwe has improved over the last few years, the lifting of sanctions would provide greater opportunities for national reconstruction. Assistance from the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China has been extremely important for the Southern African state.
Zimbabwe’s parties have completed the draft of a new constitution and ZANU-PF wants to set a date for national elections as soon as possible. President Jacob Zuma, who had to leave the SADC summit early due to the Marikana tragedy in South Africa, was praised by the gathering for his role as mediator in Zimbabwe.
The initial GPA was negotiated by former South African President Thabo Mbeki. The SADC summit elected Jakaya Kikwete, the president of Tanzania, as the new chairperson of the regional organization’s Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation, making him the effective negotiator for Zimbabwe.
Kikwete highlighted Zuma’s role over the last year saying “We are grateful to South Africa and President Zuma for steering the affairs of the organ so well in the past year…We will surely build on the good work he and other members of the troika organ have done.” (SouthAfrica.info, August 20)
The summit resolved to assist Zimbabwe with any difficulties that may arise prior to the June 2013 deadline for the resolution of the future of the country. A statement indicated “that if there are any difficulties with regards to the constitution and implementation of agreements, the facilitator should be called up to engage with the parties and assist them to resolve such issues.”
Taking on Rwanda and Madagascar
Two other key issues that came before the SADC summit was the involvement of Rwanda in the military mutiny in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the continuing conflict in Madagascar where former President Marc Ravolomanana has been denied the right to return to the country by Andry Rajoelina, who staged a military-backed coup against Ravolomanana in 2009.
SADC condemned Rwanda for its role in backing the M23 rebel organization in eastern DRC. The “Summit noted with great concern that the security situation in the eastern part of DRC has deteriorated in the last three months causing displacement of people, loss of lives and property,” said Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao.
Salomao went on to point out that “This is being perpetrated by rebel groups with the assistance of Rwanda and urged the latter to cease immediately its interference that constitutes a threat to peace and stability not only to the DRC but also to the SADC region.” An estimated 250,000 people have fled the eastern DRC since the mutiny erupted in April.
In reference to Madagascar, the summit urged the two rival leaders to reach an agreement in the best interest of the country. Rajoelina told the French Press Agency outside the official deliberations of the meeting that “We are here to find a solution to the crisis, above all a lasting solution for peace and stability in Madagascar.” (AFP, August 20)
However, Rajoelina is not in favor of the immediate return of former President Ravolomanana. He told AFP that “because this is blocking a resolution on the Madagascar crisis, it has been concluded that the former president will not return immediately…it has been decided that this return must be devised and regulated with the relevant authorities. This assessment should take place within 30 to 60 days.”
Nonetheless, SADC Executive Secretary Salomao said “Regarding the return of Marc Ravalomanana, the position of SADC is the return is unconditional. We cannot prescribe whether he has to stand or not. First he has to return.”
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire , an international electronic press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world. The press agency was founded in January of 1998 and has published thousands of articles and dispatches in newspapers, magazines, journals, research reports, blogs and websites throughout the world. The PANW represents the only daily international news source on pan-african and global affairs. To contact him, click on this link >> Email