Southern Africa: SADC Criticised for Mugabe Top Spot

The regional SADC bloc is facing serious criticism for appointing Robert Mugabe as the next chairman of the grouping, despite the highly contested elections in Zimbabwe last month and his legacy of human rights abuses and violence.

Mugabe will assume the SADC chairmanship in 2014 after being appointed to the Vice Chair position during the just ended regional summit in Malawi. The ZANU PF leader will take over from Malawi’s President Joyce Banda, during the next SADC Heads of State and Government Summit that will take place in Zimbabwe next year.

The decision followed the SADC leadership’s endorsement Mugabe and his contested election win, despite the widespread reports of irregularities and alleged vote rigging that secured ZANU PF’s ‘landslide’ victory.

The SADC decision also does not take into account other unresolved issues Mugabe presided over in Zimbabwe, like the Gukurahundi genocide of the 1980s and the 2008 campaign of violence that followed the elections that year.

These incidents have fuelled calls by international pressure groups for Mugabe to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.

Critics say the decision has again demonstrated that the SADC bloc is more committed to protecting its leaders, rather than the rights of its citizens. Some observers have told SW Radio Africa that this outcome is not surprising, “because SADC always protects their own.”

Political analyst Professor David Moore said Monday that the SADC decision shows that democracy is not the respected ideal it once was.

“It shows that even on a global level that the enthusiasm for pure democracy is diminishing, and people are lowering their expectations about what democracy is,” Moore said.

Meanwhile, SADC leaders said in a statement after the weekend summit that “all forms of sanctions” imposed on Zimbabwe should be lifted following the holding of “free and peaceful” elections.

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