'Mugabe a rogue who will do anything to stay in power'
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe should not be allowed to continue to flout the basic legal principles of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Democratic Alliance said on Monday.
The South African government and SADC should apply pressure on Mugabe, rather than standing idly by, DA spokesperson Wilmot James said.
Mugabe had “shown SADC the finger, again”, he said.
Mugabe did not even bother to send a respondent to the hearing of the SADC tribunal held on Friday, which found the government of Zimbabwe—for the third time—to be in contempt of the tribunal’s ruling to make all possible efforts to return land seized illegally from South African farm owners in Zimbabwe under the pretence of land reform by Mugabe’s administration.
The SADC tribunal was a respected body composed of three highly respected judges—AG Pillay, IJ Mtambo SC, and Dr LA Mondlane.
Honouring the tribunal’s rulings was a fundamental point of democratic adherence to the rule of law, honouring the independence of the judiciary, and the legitimacy of SADC.
“Zimbabwe stands in brazen contempt of SADC of which it is a member state,” James said.
The DA last year called on Zuma to enforce the tribunal’s ruling on the Zimbabwean government while he was head of the SADC, but he accomplished nothing.
The South African government should reverse its stance, and ought to be doing everything in its power to convince President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo—the incumbent head of SADC—to enforce the ruling.
Zuma and Kabila displayed “a pitiful weakness of political leadership” when it came to anything requiring standing up for real principles.
“We must also ask ourselves exactly what South Africa’s commitment to SADC is. We hear a great deal from the Zuma administration about the need to foster close ties with our neighbours as we supposedly work towards achieving closer economic integration and a proliferation of common values,” he said.
However, these commitments meant very little if the mechanism through which they were to be achieved, the SADC body, remained nothing more than an opportunity for grand but ultimately empty speeches and promises.
“Our region needs to find a way to work together and we can only do that if we all play by a mutually agreed set of rules that bear weight.
“Indeed, if we do not, what is the point? We have the opportunity to lead our neighbours through our example and President Zuma must think long and hard about exactly what role he envisages for our country, if any.”
Zimbabwe’s behaviour affirmed the importance of maintaining sanctions, even increasing their severity, and the utter foolishness of the South African government to support lifting them.
Zimbabwe’s refusal—for the third time—to adhere to SADC’s tribunal was a confirmation, if any was needed, that “Mugabe is a rogue who will do anything to stay in power”.
“He outwits those who have the means to compel him to abide by democratic rules of governance, like South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma,” James said. - Sapa