What next for the West?

via The Financial Gazette – What next for the West?

Ray Ndlovu

AFTER its decade-long involvement in Zimbabwe’s protracted political crisis, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) gave the thumbs up to President Robert Mugabe’s victory in the July 31 elections at its Lilongwe, Malawi summit held over the weekend.

The development has left the West in a fix over how to proceed in its dealings with a new government that will be led by President Mugabe.

In the past, the West has imposed sanctions on the ruling elite in ZANU-PF as punishment for what they called human rights excesses.

But ZANU-PF has been like the proverbial cat with nine lives after the sanctions failed to break its back.

The formation of the government of national unity (GNU) in February 2009 with arch-rival, outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, became the launch pad for ZANU-PF’s rival.

The coalition afforded the party some breathing space, enabling it to reconnect with the grassroots. The usually frosty relations with the West also thawed under the GNU.

The rivalry ensued once more after the European Union (EU), the United States and Australia refused to validate ZANU-PF’s July 31 poll victory as free and fair. The EU, US and Australia have echoed the MDC-T’s concerns that the poll outcome was manipulated hence it was not an expression of the people’s will.

It is, however, the endorsement of the poll by SADC that is certain to trouble the EU and other western countries, which were unable to observe the elections and had to rely on the regional and continental blocs to make their own conclusions.

President Mugabe also received yet another boost after being appointed the deputy chair of SADC, which is now led by Joyce Banda, the President of Malawi.

While the SADC election observer mission declared the election “free and peaceful,” the West quickly condemned the poll results, breaking ranks with its earlier commitment to be guided by SADC’s assessment of the election.

Australia went as far as to call for a fresh election to be held as the will of the people had been suppressed.

Leaders from the US and the United Kingdom also expressed “grave concerns” over the fairness of the vote.

Interestingly, Tsvangirai has complicated matters for his backers by withdrawing his court challenge of President Mugabe’s landslide victory.

The West’s condemnation of the Zimbabwe election has not bothered SADC which proceeded to pass its seal of approval on President Mugabe’s victory at its summit held in Lilongwe, Malawi where the regional bloc stated its case against the West.

Only Botswana has stuck its thumb out for Tsvangirai, at odds with the position adopted by the rest of the SADC.

Banda, the incoming SADC chairwoman and Malawi President, fired a salvo at the West for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe and urged for them to be lifted.

“SADC calls upon the international community to review their position on sanctions following progress being made in Zimbabwe. I believe Zimbabwe deserves better, Zimbabweans have suffered enough,” Banda said.

“The SADC also commends Zimbabwe for the peaceful manner in which elections were conducted and congratulates President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party for their overwhelming win in the July 31 vote.”

In response, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said economic sanctions against President Mugabe and ZANU-PF leaders imposed in 2001 to protest a decade of human and democratic rights abuses cannot be lifted unless the vote is deemed “credible, free and fair”.

Analysts said the EU might take time to normalise relations with Harare as it fears that the lifting of the sanctions would be an embarrassing climb-down for the bloc.

Rashweat Mukundu, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said the West was likely to play hard-ball in order to see the direction of ZANU-PF policies.

“Engagement will likely precede any lifting of sanctions, I do not see the West taking a cue from SADC but rather from what ZANU-PF does going forward. However, the West’s position is now weakened by SADC’s endorsement as President Mugabe now has Africa firmly on his side,” said Mukundu.

“The West now has the burden of setting and agreeing on new benchmarks with President Mugabe for the lifting of sanctions and as of now we can only guess what these will be.”

Charles Mangongera, a political commentator, said the West would hold its own, despite the endorsement of President Mugabe by the SADC.

“I do not see the West relenting on its isolation of President Mugabe and ZANU-PF. I think the question of President Mugabe’s legitimacy will be back on the West’s agenda and we are back to the same situation we had prior to the formation of the GNU in 2009,” he said.

Political analyst, Tanonoka Joseph Whande, based in Botswana, said SADC was created for the benefit of regional leaders, with no concern for its citizens.

“The SADC exists for the leaders, not for the citizens…Disband SADC and kill the African Union for no other reason than that they are not representative of people’s intentions; they are, instead, retarding Africa’s progress,” said Whande.


  • comment-avatar
    Tawanda 11 years ago

    last paragraph is a good summary.

  • comment-avatar
    chris black 11 years ago

    Disband the 2 most powerful black gvt organizations!!! Yeah right,, im sure everyone but africa would love this..be easy to implement the old divide and conquer rule that is fading in black africa but working with the Muslims. .

  • comment-avatar
    eztechplc 11 years ago

    The first few paragraph are a mis alignment, giving an impression that the west will or has now run out of ideas to deal with the Zimbabwe situation. That is incorrect.

    Firstly, SADC is a team of buddies going out for a booze, selfish and irresponsible. They can buy beer 4 each other till they collapse, without any concern for each other’s family. So be it……nobody ever expected reasoning from these boozers. Happily, they have clearly tagged themselves to the world for ease of identification….a group of useless leaders with no brains.

    Secondly, the west has nothing to loose about Zimbabwe except their feelings of humanity being degraded by dictatorship, this is very different from boozers who gain material assets like diamonds, business from a Zimbabwe claded in chaos and international isolation. But one thing is certain, the man has no freedom at all, both home and away. He will leave in fear, trusting not even his wife.

    Thirdly, and most importanntly, the next five years will make all Zimbabwean graduands of eithier extreme poverty; or extreme wealth, with no middle ground. Fuel, food, medication, graveyards and roads will be scarce again as international financier will tighten their pockets and watch the debts ballooning.

    Importantly, Jacob Zuma is now a free man to manage his crisis for survival without spending much time to Zimbabwe…..if Mbeki has a son, now is the time he schould start grooming him to campaign for the president…..for indeed, Mbeki remains actively in politics in his inactive appearance

    Long live Zimbabwe

    • comment-avatar
      forwardzimbawe 11 years ago

      Hw wrong u r the west needs zimbabwe more.than zimbabwe need.them

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    Bruce 11 years ago

    Evidence is being destroyed, there is no judiciary to talk about. the west as soverign states have right to keep the sanctions, one who will be hurt with the sanctions can go to the international court to challenge the punshiment. At that stage then who is agreived would say his views and evidence.

  • comment-avatar
    kiddnile 11 years ago

    Africa was way better under colonial rule-period the facts speak for themselves

  • comment-avatar
    Demba Temba 11 years ago

    You forgot to include input by Bogwart Muchocho which would have been an absolute highlight.

  • comment-avatar
    jongwe power 11 years ago

    What’s next for the West is to sit back and watch, just like they have been doing since 1997.

  • comment-avatar
    Chivula Mapoti 11 years ago

    Mugabe and his family decided to go on vacation to celebrate the win.

    Grace, his wife, John, his son and Sarah his daughter wanted to go to the Bahamas but Bob wanted to go to Dubai. So the 4 decided to vote and the result was as follows:

    Bahamas: 3
    Dubai: 68

  • comment-avatar

    It is very bad that some blacks take the position of Europeans
    toward the victory of president Mugabe. Sounds similar to the positions of the black republicans of America. I guess there are sell outs and uncle toms all over the world.

  • comment-avatar
    forwardzimbawe 11 years ago

    Time.for.zimbabwe to.put.sanctions.on.western..companies hit.them.were it hurts.the most

  • comment-avatar
    BossMyass 10 years ago

    All of this is madness – complete insanity – not just on his part but the way much of the world actually comes to save them instead of letting them feel the consequences of their madness, delusions and folly. This is a total reign of unreality and madness.