‘Hakainde Hichilema has no influence on SADC power-games’ – Analyst

President Emmerson Mnangagwa with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema

HARARE – Prominent publisher and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza has said the recent assumption of the SADC Troika chairmanship by Zambian leader Hakainde Hichilema will not result in any major change in the way SADC handles Zimbabwe’s disputed elections.

Hichilema, a longtime opposition leader in Zambia before he won the presidency in elections held on 12 August 2021, is widely believed to be an ally of Zimbabwe’s opposition.

Last weekend, SADC leaders convened in Windhoek, Namibia, for the extraordinary Troika Summit, which addresses regional security crises.

The crises in Mozambique and the Kingdom of Eswatini were on the agenda, but Zimbabwe’s upcoming general elections were not.

Hichilema’s assumption of the chairmanship of the revolving post of SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation, fuelled optimism among some Zimbabweans that the regional body will finally press Harare to implement electoral reforms.

However, in an interview with ZimLive, Mandaza said it was unlikely that SADC will change its approach towards the cycle of Zimbabwe’s contested elections even with Hichilema at the helm. He said:

[SADC is] historically and politically constrained from playing the kind of role, especially that of an interventionist kind in the affairs of a fellow member state that is expected of it.

It is essentially an interstate organization, and therefore statist in orientation, almost impervious to and unable to deal with crises.

Therefore, it’s unlikely that Hakainde Hichilema will dare act beyond the usual that has been expected of a member of SADC ever since its inception in April 1980. It would be good if he surprised us though.

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