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Human Rights Groups: SADC Failing to Tame Mugabe

International and local rights groups have expressed frustration with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for failing to reign in President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party, warning an election in 2013 may replicate the violent and chaotic June 2008 presidential election run-off.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in separate reports say SADC is struggling to help reform Harare’s volatile political situation.

The ICG report titled, Implementing Peace and Security Architecture (ll) Southern Africa says the regional bloc’s intervention in Zimbabwe’s political crisis exposed its limited capacity to enforce agreements it helps broker.

The report says SADC has failed to effectively deal with the Zimbabwe political gridlock because the bloc’s conflict resolution mechanism depends on heads of state and government and ministerial committees which are perpetually committed to their own domestic issues.

The ICG report says: “SADC’s intervention in Madagascar and Zimbabwe has exposed the region’s limited capacity to enforce agreements it has brokered.”

The ICG urged SADC to activate a mediation unit led by “elders” or retired statesmen to help in conflict resolution.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe report titled Zimbabwe Transition Barometer says SADC has lost focus. “There are indications that SADC’s key interest in Zimbabwe may now merely be the need to restore political stability, without necessarily establishing sustainable democracy foundations.”

Political analyst Joy Mabenge, who is the democracy and advocacy manager of the Institute for A Democratic Alternative Zimbabwe, says Zimbabweans are their own worst enemies and must not rush to blame SADC.