Ordinary Zimbabweans are excited that President Robert Mugabe has handed over the Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairmanship to Botswana President Khama Seretse Ian Khama saying maybe Mr. Mugabe will now use the available time to concentrate on solving his nation’s socio-economic problems.
Although the position handed over to Mr. Khama on Monday is largely ceremonial, many Zimbabweans believe that with the hype given to the chairmanship by the authorities, it could bring good tidings to the country with Mr. Mugabe at the helm.
But things have not changed much for the better with the economy continuing in freefall.
Mufakose resident, Johnston Chirwa, said overally, the man on the street did not benefit anything from Mr. Mugabe’s chairmanship of the regional bloc, adding that if anyone came out with something, it was the president himself who got something by attending meetings with his counterparts in the region.
Marimba resident, John Mlilo, welcomed President Ian Khama as the new SADC chair, noting that the tough-talking Khama may just be persuaded to add Zimbabwe onto the SADC agenda so its political and economic problems may be discussed and resolved.
Emily Moyo of Eastlea said while relinquishing the SADC chairmanship will give President Mugabe time to focus on his own country, not much will change given that he is allegedly surrounded by corrupt people.
Her sentiments were echoed by Melanie Gumbo of Bindura, who said Mr. Mugabe did well as SADC chair and deserved some rest.
Another local resident, Simbarashe Matsvimbo, said given that SADC’s focus is currently on industrialization and economic transformation, the region can tap from the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), President Mugabe’s economic blueprint.
Moyo, however, said while ZimAsset is good on paper, the jury was still out since not much has yet changed in the lives of ordinary people.
President Mugabe’s tenure as SADC chair was marked by less activity and controversy unlike in 1998 when he sent Zimbabwean troops into the Democratic Republic of Congo as SADC troika chair. The DRC incursion plunged the Zimbabwean economy into chaos.