Supporters of ousted Madagascar President Ravalomanana being forced off the road by riot police when the exiled leader was denied admission into his own country. Efforts to work out a political compromise in the Indian Ocean African state has failed., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
By Mpho Tebele
Political crises on SADC radar
Gaborone - Mediation efforts are continuing in the SADC member states affected by internal political strife, the bloc’s Executive Secretary, Dr Tomaz Salamão, has said ahead of the bloc’s scheduled Maputo Summit.
Mozambique hosts the 32nd Summit of Heads of State and Government of SADC in its capital city on August 17 and 18. A meeting of the Council of Ministers will precede the Summit.
Apart from the political issues, the grouping will also discuss regional integration and progress made so far in social, cultural and economic sectors.
Briefing journalists prior to the Summit, Dr Salamão said mediation efforts were held in Lesotho, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.
“In Zimbabwe, SADC through President Jacob Zuma of South Africa continued to engage the parties concerned to remain committed to steps leading to peaceful, free and fair elections.
“A revised draft constitution was recently concluded and we hope that this will be followed by a referendum, once all the parties are satisfied with its concerns,” he said. Zimbabwe will hold a general election whether or not the draft constitution is accepted at the plebiscite so as to end the three-party coalition government that has been characterised by tension since its formation in early 2009.
There are reports that SADC leaders will commend the European Union for lifting some of its illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe, but will press the bloc to unconditionally remove the widely-discredited embargo that has damaged the economy of the Southern African country.
Dr Salamão said in Madagascar, the SADC liaison office had been established and was mandated to facilitate monitoring of activities relating to the implementation of a roadmap aimed at restoring constitutional normalcy through electoral processes that are free, fair, credible and transparent.
Expectations are that Madagascar – which has been suspended from SADC and AU counsels for three years – will hold a general election around May 2012. The country plunged into chaos when former Mayor of the capital Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina seized power from Marc Ravalomanana in a military-backed coup.
“The summit will be briefed on how far the region has gone in the facilitation process in order to bring Madagascar back to constitutional normalcy.
“Last week’s meeting in Seychelles, between Former President Marc Ravalomanana and High Transition Authority President, Andry Rajoelina, they requested the facilitator, President Zuma to afford time to go and reflect on the outstanding issues in order for them to meet and finalise pending issues,” said Dr Salamão.
As for Lesotho, he said the mediation efforts were formally concluded, thus paving way for general elections that were successfully held on May 26, 2012.
He said peace and security in the region remained stable, citing successful elections in the DRC, Lesotho, Seychelles and Zambia.
Indications are that the Summit will also deliberate on the security situation in the DRC. An army mutiny by rebels calling themselves M23 has wreaked havoc in eastern DRC on the border with Rwanda.
A UN group of experts has said Rwanda is colluding with the rebels to destablise the mineral-rich area, a charge that Kigali denies and one that the United States does not want debated at the world organisation’s Security Council.
In 1998, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and – briefly – Chad deployed troops in the DRC to help the government crush an uprising by rebels overtly backed by Rwanda and Uganda, and allegedly covertly supported by the United States and France.
Dr Salamão told the media in Gaborone, “(The) post-elections security situation in DRC deteriorated in the last three months, causing displacement of thousands of people and loss of property and lives.
“The situation calls for renewed and urgent attention by SADC.”Furthermore, the Summit will discuss three critical items for regional economic development: the master plan on infrastructure and services, implementation of a development front, and a report on the SADC Tribunal.
The Tribunal remains suspended following complaints that it was acting as a regional supreme court that was undermining decisions of municipal courts and members’ own constitutions.
The Maputo gathering will culminate in the bloc’s handing over of the SADC chairmanship to Mozambique.
SADC member states are Angola (current chair), Botswana, the DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar (suspended), Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.