via Khama won’t reign in Mugabe – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 19, 2015
Botswana President Ian Khama’s Sadc chairmanship will not have any effect on President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party because the position is ceremonial and works on consensus from member states, analysts have said.
by Everson Mushava
Khama, who deputised Mugabe as Sadc chairman until Monday, has been a vocal critic of the 91-year-old leader and many people have been anticipating that his reign would give him an opportunity to take the bull by the horns.
However, political analysts described the Sadc chairmanship as a straitjacket, meaning Khama would not be able to do anything alone to deal with Mugabe without the consensus of member states. History has proved that Sadc member states were more interested in regional solidarity than issues of human rights and democracy.
Political analyst Takura Zhangazha yesterday said the position of Sadc chair remains largely one that functions by way of consensus.
“Therefore, to expect a fundamentally different style in how Sadc is run because Botswana President Ian Khama is now chair may be overestimating the role of his Sadc chairmanship,” Zhangazha said.
“As was the case during President Mugabe’s tenure, there will be little that Khama can do on his own or without the requisite regional consensus when it comes to Zimbabwe. Unless there is another disputed election in Zimbabwe or a monumental political and economic humanitarian crisis, Khama cannot look for one, let alone create it.”
Zimbabwe’s next elections would be in 2018, two years after Khama is gone. Next year, Swaziland, which is sympathetic to Mugabe, will assume the chairmanship.
Relations between Mugabe and Khama have been frosty following the Botswana leaders’ open criticism of the Zanu PF misrule.
Khama was the only Sadc leader who questioned the credibility of Mugabe’s 2013 electoral victory. A loner in the region, Khama has always shown limited interest in regional solidarity and has openly castigated some leaders, particularly Mugabe, for stifling democracy and for human rights violations.
“Yes, Khama may change the complexion of Sadc from being somewhat radically pan-Africanist in tone, but to act alone on Zimbabwe would violate what Sadc member states hold particularly dear, that is sovereignty,” Zhangazha added.
Media and democracy scholar Pedzisai Ruhanya said the Sadc and African Union chairmanships were ceremonial and only aimed at bringing about political and economic stability than respect of tenets of democracy.
“Even Mugabe as the Sadc chair did not do much, not because he failed, but because decisions are made by consensus by member states,” Ruhanya said.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said Khama’s one-year term of office was not enough to make any significant changes.
“Yes, he has been an icon of democracy in the region, but to say that his script will be different from that of Mugabe will be a bit far-fetched,” Rusero said.
Rusero said Khama would advance the industrialisation and regional integration issues than electoral processes. He, Rusero added, would likely focus on how Sadc can deal with the issues of youth unemployment and HIV.
Sadc has 277 million people and of them, 15 million have been orphaned by HIV while over 40% of the youth in the region are unemployed.