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SADC Troika Avoids Discussions on Deteriorating Zimbabwe Situation

FILE: Botswana President Ian Khama (L) walks alongside Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (R) during a lunch break at the SADC summit in Maputo, June 15, 2013.
FILE: Botswana President Ian Khama (L) walks alongside Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (R) during a lunch break at the SADC summit in Maputo, June 15, 2013.

Regional leaders, including President Robert Mugabe met in Gaborone, Botswana, for the Southern African Development Double Troika meeting Tuesday but Zimbabwe was not on the agenda. Instead, focus was on political instability in Lesotho.

Last month, a pressure group based in the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe Vigil, petitioned Botswana president and SADC chairperson, Ian Khama, to tackle what they called the deepening political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

The loudest cheers at the meeting were reserved for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe who looked exhausted as he made his way into the SADC Double Troika meeting venue. He was the last man in as he walked gingerly after a short flight from Harare last night.

To his relief, Zimbabwe was not on the agenda as focus was on Lesotho's political instability, which flared following the murder of top army official, Brigadier Maparankoe Mohao, last year.

Last month, a Zimbabwe pressure group, Zimbabwe Vigil petitioned Khama in his capacity as SADC chairperson, arguing the political and economic situation was deteriorating in their homeland.

The group wanted Khama, as the SADC chairperson, to re-introduce Zimbabwe into the regional bloc's agenda.

But when leaders, including President Mugabe, convened in Gaborone, Zimbabwe was not discussed. The Double Troika consists of six countries, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Swaziland and
South Africa.

One disappointed Zimbabwean, Mr. Brighton Ndlovu, who was at the meeting venue, said Zimbabweans need to do more to get SADC to listen to their concerns.

"There are a number of lessons which can’t be learnt from what Lesotho has done. You can't lobby in London, Basotho have come here to lobby the presidents. This is the crowd that wants to listen to your complaints."

He believes Lesotho has aggressively pursued SADC to act on what it believes are gross human rights violations and there are signs of progress.

Leaders held a closed door session, before the SADC executive secretary, Stergomena Laurence Tax, and SADC ministers chairperson, Venson Moitoi, addressed the media on the outcome of the meeting.

Deputy leader of the opposition Basotho Party and former Lesotho Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Joang Molapo told Studio 7 he was happy with progress made in addressing the Lesotho political crisis.

“We are appreciative of the efforts of SADC. SADC has answered the prayers of the Basotho people. This is a real statement of determination on the part of SADC to help Lesotho end its problems."

The summit urged all Lesotho opposition members in exile to return home to participate in reforms towards restoring the rule of law.

Report On SADC Meeting Filed By Martin Ngwenya
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