SADC: How are we behaving?

Southern African leaders opened a summit in Angola on Wednesday under pressure to address growing regional unrest and anti-government protests, and leadership crises in Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

The two-day Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit would allow its 15 nations to “enhance our regional cooperation and integration”, Angolan President Jose dos Santos said in a written welcome message.

It would also allow countries to “harmonise our positions regarding key current affairs issues that may affect the peace and stability necessary to ensure sustainable development and the consolidation of democracy”, he said.

Hotspots
The meeting comes with the Southern African region troubled by spreading unrest with violent crackdowns on anti-government protests in Malawi and Swaziland.

Zimbabwe and Madagascar are other regional troublespots, with their protracted leadership crises featuring high on summit agendas in recent years.


In Malawi, 19 people were killed last month when security forces used live ammunition to put down demonstrations against President Bingu wa Mutharika, accused of becoming increasingly autocratic as the economy spirals downwards.

Malawian police tightened security in main cities on Wednesday in case of more protests, even though organisers had a day earlier postponed nationwide vigils.

After last month’s deadly unrest, SADC sent an observer mission to the country and it is expected to report back to the summit.

Swaziland’s King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch, also faces growing anti-government sentiment. The tiny kingdom erupted in protest in April over proposals to slash government workers’ salaries amid a financial crisis.

Divided over Zimbabwe
The SADC leaders are also expected to discuss Zimbabwe as President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai bicker over new elections.

Mugabe insists polls go ahead this year, with or without a new constitution, but Tsvangirai first wants reforms agreed to in their power-sharing pact to be implemented.

The Zimbabwe crisis has divided the SADC between liberation leaders who were comrades-in-arms with members of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and a new generation of politicians riding on the agenda of democracy and good governance.

Another headache for SADC is Madagascar, which was suspended from the grouping in 2009 after former president Marc Ravalomanana was ousted by Andry Rajoelina, then mayor of the capital, Antananarivo.

Regional mediators have yet to find a solution to the impasse.

SADC is meanwhile itself facing calls for less talk and more action at the meeting in the Angolan capital, Luanda.

“We need to begin to call our leadership to account,” Boichoko Ditlhake, the head of a coalition of non-profit groups from the region, told journalists at a pre-summit briefing.

“There is a systematic and continuous disregard for the policy framework that defines and dictates how member states in our regional body should behave.” – AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

In Softie, politics takes a personal toll on Boniface Mwangi – and his family

Softie is an intimate portrait of how political activism complicates family life

State of democracy in Africa: Changing leaders doesn’t change politics

The Bertelsmann Transformation Index Africa Report 2020, A Changing of the Guards or A Change of Systems?, suggests that we should be cautious about the prospects for rapid political improvements

International students need equal care

Contradictory pandemic regulations could to be putting critical training in jeopardy

The quiet rise of spy states

Few Southern African countries have laws protecting people’s privacy, a report reveals

It’s the end of an era in Lesotho

A political obituary for Thomas Thabane

Southern Africa’s dangerous information gap exacerbates natural disasters

During Cyclone Idai, responses were hampered by a shortage of reliable information. This has worrying implications for dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic
Advertising

Subscribers only

The shame of 40 000 missing education certificates

Graduates are being left in the lurch by a higher education department that is simply unable to deliver the crucial certificates proving their qualifications - in some cases dating back to 1992

The living nightmare of environmental activists who protest mine expansion

Last week Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down as activists fight mining company Tendele’s expansions. Community members tell the M&G about the ‘kill lists’ and the dread they live with every day

More top stories

Fifteen witnesses for vice-chancellor probe

Sefako Makgatho University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mbati had interdicted parliament last month from continuing with the inquiry

Constitutional Court ruling on restructuring dispute is good for employers

A judgment from the apex court empowers employers to change their workers’ contracts — without consultation

Audi Q8: Perfectly cool

The Audi Q8 is designed to be the king in the elite SUV class. But is it a victim of its own success?

KZN officials cash in on ‘danger pay for Covid-19’

Leadership failures at Umdoni local municipality in KwaZulu-Natal have caused a ‘very unhappy’ ANC PEC to fire the mayor and chief whip
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday