President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s legitimacy crisis stemming from the contested victory in the August 23 election is intensifying, as it becomes apparent that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) plans to convene a meeting to address the turmoil in Harare.
These developments coincide with reports that the beleaguered leader has been engaging with various African presidents during the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, seeking their assistance in quelling the diplomatic tensions engulfing Zimbabwe.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking on the sidelines of the UNGA, confirmed that SADC would soon summon Mnangagwa’s administration to address the election-related issues. Additionally, Ramaphosa mentioned that representatives from the SADC Election Observer Mission, led by former Zambian vice-president Nevers Mumba, would also be invited to discuss their critical report on the elections, which had drawn condemnation from other international election observer missions.
Ramaphosa emphasized that the SADC observer mission’s report highlighted challenges that needed attention but did not declare the Zimbabwean election as “invalid.” He noted that many countries worldwide faced similar challenges in their elections, including the United States.
According to the SADC Election Observer Mission’s report, crucial Zimbabwean institutions responsible for conducting the elections failed to operate independently and transparently. Ramaphosa urged the mission to provide further details to address these issues appropriately.
He stated, “We are waiting to receive that report at the SADC level so that we can deal with it because, if anything, it was an interim report. So, once the report is put to the SADC body, we will then debate it and we will also hear representations from Zimbabwe as well as the SADC observer mission.”
During his address at the UNGA, Ramaphosa reiterated his call for the unconditional lifting of Western-imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, emphasizing that these sanctions were negatively impacting not only Zimbabwe but also South Africa.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa held meetings with Angolan President and SADC Chair João Lourenço, as well as President Ramaphosa, in an attempt to secure their support in addressing the election-related crisis. Reports indicate that a regional lobby effort is underway to convene an extraordinary summit on the Zimbabwe situation.
Zimbabwe’s recent elections have raised concerns due to widespread irregularities and a disregard for both national and international electoral standards. SADC member states are under pressure to take effective action to address this ongoing crisis, as their credibility as promoters of democracy is at stake. The region also faces upcoming elections in Eswatini, Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Botswana, further underscoring the need for a resolution to the Zimbabwe issue.
The success of an emergency meeting depends on President Hichilema of Zambia, who chairs the SADC summit troika, garnering support from key members of the troika and other SADC countries. Mnangagwa, who holds significant influence as the incoming SADC chair, may attempt to sway the outcome of such a meeting in his favor.
While some SADC leaders have congratulated Mnangagwa on his election victory, only a few attended his inauguration, suggesting that he lacks strong regional support. The situation remains complex, with potential political maneuvering and uncertainty regarding whether SADC will take concrete action on Zimbabwe’s disputed elections.
Source – newshawks