SADC to meet in Swaziland over Madagascar, Zim

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pretoria - Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State meet in Swaziland's capital, Mbabane will next Monday to discuss proposals put forward on the political crisis in Madagascar and Zimbabwe's economic recovery.

The summit will deliberate on a report on the current situation and developments in Madagascar following the unconstitutional transfer of power last week.

Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana handed power to a navy admiral last week after a violent power struggle. The army in turn named opposition leader Andry Rajoelina the country's new leader.

Last week, South African Defence Minister Charls Nqakula said Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation would put forwards a proposal to impose tough sanctions on Madagascar.

Speaking after an Extra Ordinary Summit of the Trioka, he said it was time tougher action was taken against those who illegally oust democratically elected leaders.

Mr Nqakula said the mood at the summit which was also held in Swaziland had been characterised by a deep sense of intolerance to the illegal outage of a democratically elected leader.

"The sanctions must send a clear signal that SADC does not tolerate any ousting of democratically elected leaders. They must feel the sanctions," he said last week, adding that the Madagascan situation must be used as a yard stick to see how SADC and the African Union respond to situations like this in the future.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, who is also the current SADC Chairperson, has said he will not recognise Mr Rajoelina as a leader.

Executive Secretary of SADC Tomaz Salamao has been mandated to engage the AU, United Nations and all other role players to help define a comprehensive and coherent strategy that would lead to the resolution of the situation in that country.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota told BuaNews said the meeting had been moved to Mbabane because an adequate venue could not be found in the original location, Cape Town.

The Heads of State from the 15-member organ are also likely to finalise a $2 billion regional aid package to Zimbabwe. Half of that is needed in the form of credit and the other half in the form of development budget support to kick-start the recovery program.

The SADC Council of Ministers has already endorsed a proposal to assist Zimbabwe in its recovery plan, including availing a financial package.

Speaking after the Council of Ministers meeting earlier this month in Cape Town, South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the regional bloc was determined to help Zimbabwe mobilise resources for economic recovery.

The SADC is also keen to see Zimbabwe normalise strained relations with the Bretton Woods institutions the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which cut lines of credit.