Calls for SADC to play a monitoring role in Zimbabwe

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers says he believes that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) should play a monitoring role in Zimbabwe following the resignation of its long-serving President Robert Mugabe.

The Deputy Minister said this when he briefed the Portfolio Committee on International Relations in Parliament on Wednesday on the latest developments in Zimbabwe.

Following a 37-year reign as President after ushering the country into official independence as Zimbabwe in 1980, the Speaker of the Zimbabwean Parliament confirmed on Tuesday that the liberation leader had tendered his resignation following a military intervention, which saw the then President Mugabe being put under house confinement by the Zimbabwean Defence Force.

The Deputy Minister said following the resignation of former President Mugabe, the people of Zimbabwe should be given space to determine their way forward and that no solutions should be prescribed to them from other countries.

“SADC should play its monitoring role and monitor things as they happen to ensure that the proper processes are followed all the time and that they are in line with the Zimbabwean Constitution.

“From their past experience with the people of Zimbabwe, we have to allow the people of Zimbabwe to do what is expected of them without interfering,” Deputy Minister Landers said.

The statement follows an eventful week that saw the Zimbabwean Defence Force (ZDF) moving in to seize control of the country on 14 November – sealing off strategic points such as broadcasting stations, airport and government offices.

On 15 November, ZDF spokesperson Major General Sibusiso Moyo announced that the military had taken control of the country and called for calm.

Moyo also assured the nation that President Robert Mugabe and his family were safe and that the military intervention should not be viewed as a coup, but as a “bloodless correction”.

On the same day, President Jacob Zuma, as Chair of SADC, issued a media statement expressing great concern of the political situation in Zimbabwe and appealed for calm and restraint and further called for dialogue to take its course.

Thereafter, President Zuma sent the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security Minister Bongani Bongo as special envoys to Zimbabwe, where they had separate talks with Mugabe and the Mmilitary.

On 21 November, the Summit of the Organ of Troika plus Chairperson of SADC was held in Angola, which took a resolution that both leaders of the Organ (Angolan President Joao Lourenco) and the Summit (President Zuma) should visit Zimbabwe on 22 November.

The Presidency later issued a statement announcing that in light of Mugabe’s resignation, the trip had been postponed until further notice.

Most Members of Parliament expressed a view that while the military intervention in Zimbabwe must not be celebrated, the people of Zimbabwe should be commended for a peaceful transition.

They agreed with the Deputy Minister Landers’ view that there should be no political interference from any SADC Member states. 

The Deputy Minister said SADC Member States were on standby to assist in the Zimbabwe situation if and when the people of Zimbabwe request assistance.

Deputy Minister Landers said, meanwhile, that neither South Africa nor SADC had an official statement on the resignation of President Mugabe.  

“We have to be mindful and weary of becoming big brothers... We shouldn’t fall into that trap. At all times, we should endeavour to assist Zimbabwe with whatever they may need. We have to allow the people of Zimbabwe to determine their own fate.” –