via ‘Mugabe’s Sadc chair will burden Zim’ – DailyNews Live 12 August 2014 by Lloyd Mbiba
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s imminent takeover as Southern African Development Community (Sadc) chairman will not bring any benefits to Zimbabwe, an opposition leader has said.
Sadc will hold its 34th Sadc heads of State and government summit at the Elephant Hills Hotel in Victoria Falls this week where Mugabe takes over as Sadc chairman.
Simba Makoni, leader of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) and former Sadc executive secretary, told the Daily News last week that the assumption of the chairmanship of the regional body will burden Zimbabwe further as it will have to fork out resources to host meetings.
Assumption of the chairmanship entails hosting and chairing the summit of heads of State and government, council of ministers meetings, standing committee of senior officials’ meetings and sectorial meetings.
Zimbabwe will also be expected to chair extra-ordinary meetings at summit, ministerial and at other levels.
“I would say materially nothing from the chairmanship; our benefits come from membership and participation in the activities of Sadc,” Makoni told the Daily News in an exclusive interview.
“Just being chairperson doesn’t bring any benefit and in some respect it brings responsibilities because you must fork out resources for the chairman to visit member states and to attend to meetings as chairman.
“….the advantages flow from being a member of the organisation which is implementing common programmes and activities that benefit the member states, that’s where the benefits come from. And l would say whether we are chairman or not, those benefits will flow depending on our participation with other countries.”
On August 17 and 18, Zimbabwe will host a Sadc heads of state and government summit, where Mugabe will assume the chairmanship of the regional body.
Mugabe’s appointment will see him presiding over the continental body until August 2015 and subsequently as a member of the Sadc Troika until 2016, Currently, Mugabe is Sadc vice chairman.
Makoni said the elevation of Mugabe to the top post will not create a dilemma for the opposition movements in the country as they can still lobby other organs of the regional body. He spoke amid concerns opposition parties were in a Catch-22 in their bid to press regional leaders meeting in Zimbabwe next week to resolve a deepening socio-economic and political crisis at a time Mugabe is set to take over as chairman of the 15-nation Sadc.
“I don’t think so, Mugabe is not Sadc and the chairman is not Sadc,” Makoni said. “If Tsvangirai wants to lobby president (Jacob) Zuma he can do it. If he wants to lobby president (Jakaya) Kikwete of Tanzania he will do so.
“The fact that Mugabe will be the chairman doesn’t stop people from meeting these individuals and Sadc decisions are taken by consent and they are not dictated to by the chairman.
I don’t think the mere fact that Zimbabwe assumes chairmanship then Sadc member states become inaccessible.”
But the MKD leader was quick to warn that Sadc, or any other body, will never help Zimbabwe rise from the quagmire it is in.
Sadc brokered the Zimbabwe power-sharing deal in 2008 after disputed elections.
To that end, Makoni said it wais high time Zimbabweans come together to solve their own problems.
“Having said that, our problems will not be solved by Sadc, South Africa, or United Nations (UN). Sadc will assist, UN will assist, but the primary responsibility of solving our problems rests with us,” Makoni said.
“When we launched the armed struggle, we did it under the banner: We are our own liberators with help from our friends. I want to implore Zimbabweans to get back to that slogan and accept that the primary responsibility of solving our problems lies with us.
“The solution lies in Zimbabweans working together, Zimbabwean politicians, economists, business leaders and traditional leaders accepting that we are responsible for creating these problems by commission or omission. Because we created these problems for ourselves and we must solve them ourselves.”