The African Union (AU) is a tried-and- tested institution that has been able to make thoughtful and strategic decisions in dealing with various challenges confronting its member states.
By Tafadzwa Mugwadi
Having been formed in 1963 as the OAU, it should be commended for having stood with most liberation movements in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular in order to wage a successful and illustrious liberation struggle which our Constitution acknowledges in its preamble as the hallmark of our identity as a united people of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Indeed, the OAU Liberation Committee will never escape a special mention as part of our history as a country and as a people. As such our commitment and respect to this continental family of nations will remain steadfast and unshakable.
The same goes for Sadc, whose role in our liberation even equals that of the OAU. As a people, it is clear that Zimbabweans will always cherish belonging to this regional grouping for historical, economic, political and social strategic reasons. For those who might forget, the Sadc that we have as a 16-member regional organisation emerged from the Southern African Development Coordination Conference which had evolved from the Frontline States. The Frontline States are now modern-day Sadc and most of them played a very crucial role in the creation of our nation through vanquishing the racist Smith regime. Most cadres of this struggle for independence were trained in these Frontline States or other AU countries such as Egypt where they were schooled both militarily and ideologically. This makes it unequivocal that Zimbabwe will always be a proud member of these groups in the region and is ready to co-operate with them on matters of common strategic interests as well as the development of our peoples in fighting against the numerous evils of poverty, elite corruption, diseases and inequality and ensure peace and stability that guarantees human security
However, without taking anything away from the foregoing reality, it should be noted that the latest statement by African Union chairperson HE President Alpha Conde, accusing the ZDF of staging or moving towards a military takeover should be interrogated, is academically handicapped as well as practically irrelevant given the situation unfolding in Zimbabwe.
The imperative of engaging this AU statement is based from the fact that the statement itself has the potential to cause more harm than good, escalation and degeneration from what is as it stands, a surprisingly calm, peaceful and routine situation.
Any attempts to describe the Zimbabwean situation so far as one that warrants intervention of a third party is at best regrettable, unduly stampeded, ill-timed and ill-informed to say the least. I advise him to read President Mugabe’s principles and rule book on the primacy of State sovereignty against interference into the domestic affairs of Zimbabwe.
This is because the situation on the ground does not even point to the direction that the President Alpha Conde is ignorantly speculating on. The view is ill-timed because it is happening when there are no tensions between the army and any stakeholders in Zimbabwe, be it civilians or otherwise.
Secondly, there have been no incidents of confrontations or violence in the country to the extent that Zimbabweans all over the world are celebrating this moment without any threat to human security at all.
Thirdly, those doing business in the country have enjoyed the normalcy of business and workplaces without any threats or fear.
Fourthly, the army has managed so far, to enforce its measures against known criminals, whose actions that involved rampant embezzlement of public funds, usurpation of the Presidency through manipulating his family, subverting the constitutional order by interfering with the justice system and making tribal utterances that had the potential to cause ethnic strife in Zimbabwe.
This all took place against systematic and relentless attacks and provocations against the ZDF and its leadership despite its stewardship of the defence function of our country as well as upholding its Constitution. How about the unjust and unscrupulous declarations to elevate the President’s wife into the Vice Presidency of party and country, amid fears of an imposed dynasty in our country and undermining efforts of creating a flourishing democracy.
Of course, this was the end game after mistreating the Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa for having done nothing, at least as far as Zimbabweans are concerned.
The million-dollar point here that the African Union should appreciate graciously is that the measures taken by the ZDF have pre-empted and avoided what could have become a hot-potato in Zimbabwe. As such, these measures should be supported and hailed than ridiculed because the ZDF have chipped in constitutionally to neutralise a time-bomb before it blew and turn Zimbabwe into a failed case study of intervention like DRC, Somalia, and Libya among others.
It is against this background that the ZDF have taken a pro-active role as the last line of defence of our constitutional democracy founded on the unity and peaceful coexistence of our people and this is the reason why Zimbabweans are blowing fireworks of jubilation all over. As such, the AU should be advised to choose its words carefully before releasing its statements or risk mobilising chaos and animosity of alarming alacrity needlessly so.
Instead of being high on the negative, the AU should have been shrewd to at least take the Sadc position as enunciated by President Zuma the Sadc chairperson, who accurately noted that he had communicated with the President and ascertained his safety as well as commending the ZDF for avoiding violence as they conclude their measures and speedily move to constitutional order.
The touring point that Mr Conde should know is that as is the case with other regional organisations, the AU must be led by the regional bloc where the member state experiencing a situation belongs, in our case Sadc, rather than shoot from below the belt in a manner that is completely different from Sadc and dangerously so.
Of course, his statement, I would want to believe shows concern for Zimbabweans, and that is understandable. But what Zimbabweans want now more than any conference, Troika or statement of concern is solidarity with them and their beloved sons and daughters in the ZDF as they collectively through these measures, carve a new trajectory for their future in the face of an imminent dawn of a new era that heralds a break down from a past characterised by usurpists, authoritarianism, corrupt rotten lot, provocative tribalists and nepotistic tendencies to constitutionalism, responsible government and national transformation.
Anything short of that, or to the opposite can certainly turn out to be provocation of the masses of Zimbabwe whose only hope of crossing Jordan River is the ZDF.
Needless to point out that when measures like the ZDF measures in Zimbabwe have been operationalised, there is a lot of sensationalisation, speculation and alarmism by various characters, both scrupulous and unscrupulous for various reasons and objectives which can both be noble or nefarious. As it stands, the ZDF has announced its objectives well, as politically erasing the criminal lot
around the Presidency in order to avert security threats and ensure that government focuses on dealing with socio-economic challenges facing the people. It has abundantly and repeatedly announced that it’s not a military coup as the President of the Republic is still there, safe and sound with his family.
That clearly means there is no vacancy in the office of the Presidency so far until may be President Mugabe voluntarily steps down. Although my honest advice for the President to resign and allow Zimbabwe to chat its way forward, this remains my strongly held view and the popular view but the ZDF have not caused that yet.
This makes it false that there is a coup and that the army has taken over because the army has not said so. There are some Zimbabwean individuals and organisations that have a penchant of looking at the current measures as an opportunity and an excuse to push either certain agendas, create confusion or solicit donor funds for some funny or silly actions. Some have already started saying they are forming an NTA while others are lobbying some neighbouring countries for UN or AU sponsored elections or interventions. This is regrettable and must be resisted by Zimbabweans viciously and diplomatically because the matter remains internal until it is not. We are still a sovereign state and must at least now be treated as such. The AU must be watchful of and careful about issuing statements based on those fellows whose Tomfoolery is written all over the wall and should be stopped.
I could name some of these figures but for the hope that some of them will stop it, I will name Walter Mzembi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs who is one of those wanted for attempting to usurp the presidency using the first lady. The AU and Sadc must be smarter enough not to be used by this targeted minister who is trying to avoid imminent arrest by sending alarm bells all over, doing advocacy for his allies like Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Phelekezela Mphoko and Patrick Zhuwao among others.
These individuals have vested interests known to be such by all Zimbabweans hence AU or Sadc responses must be careful of doing advocacy for this rapacious clique of fortune seekers. It will be advisable to monitor the situation as the ZDF carries its measures just like what the UK, USA, and China among other notable countries have said rather than rushing to condemn, speculate or prescribe remedies. The AU leadership and conduct should reflect professionalism and unquestionable diplomatic discipline that is beyond reproach when handling complex situations like this one. The ZDF has taken extraordinary measures to address these extraordinary circumstances in a peaceful and professional manner which is the hallmark of a Zimbabwean soldier and as they promised, normalcy soon.
Allow Zimbabweans to carve and negotiate a bright future that is on the dawn in a peaceful and tranquil manner currently obtaining instead of scrambling to gain undeserved political and diplomatic mileage and expediency over a bloodless and peaceful correction that ZDF and Zimbabweans are seized with.
Certainly, history and Zimbabweans, and the international community will never forgive Sadc and the AU if they could be bribed to reverse the gains of the Zimbabwean Revolution unfolding peacefully and I repeat without any iota of doubt – PEACEFULLY. Some modicum of decency must dawn on Mr Conde so that he recovers his lenses to distinguish between rendering support to the ZDF and the people of Zimbabwe or the jetsam and flotsam of notorious anti-people louts called G40.
Tafadzwa Mugwadi is a Zimbabwean political scientist and a conflict mediation consultant based in Arusha, Tanzania. He holds a Master of Science Degree in International Relations and a BSc Honours Degree in Political Science from the University of Zimbabwe. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.