Political analysts have described CCC leader Nelson Chamisa’s recent plea to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ensure that Zimbabwe holds free and fair elections as purely symbolic.
In the past, SADC has been accused of doing nothing to end Zimbabwe’s cycle of disputed elections, especially since the emergence of the MDC in 1999.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure told NewsDay that SADC has no “appetite” to intervene in Zimbabwe. Said Masunungure:
I do not think those regional bodies have much appetite to involve themselves in the Zimbabwean situation.
Such calls for solidarity can be made symbolic so that at least they can say they did something in their call for reforms.
SAPES Trust director Ibbo Mandaza said although SADC could play a role in resolving the problems Zimbabwe is facing, Parliament should play its role. He said:
Appeals to SADC and the regional bodies are also important, but historically, SADC did little or nothing about the Zimbabwean situation given the declining influence and status of the regional organisation, more than a graphic illustration of the sordid conditions in which Zimbabwe finds itself, economically, politically and socially.
Parliament is one key institution which can be used to resolve the problem. We have opposition MPs in Parliament. What are they doing to push for electoral reforms in that House?
On Thursday, Chamisa pleaded with SADC for the regional organisation to push for electoral reforms in Zimbabwe ahead of the 2023 elections.
In an open letter to SADC, Chamisa said regional countries will continue to carry the burden of Zimbabwe’s crisis until the governance issues are resolved. Wrote Chamisa:
Zimbabwe has been a burden to her neighbours for far too long. It is time we changed this.
This all starts with solving the governance crisis, once and for all. We need reforms. We must prepare and have a pre-election pact on electoral and political reforms.
Our call to our neighbours is this; we appreciate your benevolence and patience, but you should not have to carry this burden any longer than you already have.
Help us to hold credible elections. We are encouraged that President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the immigration crisis will be discussed at regional level.
Now, more strongly than ever, SADC must demand reforms. We do not ask for anything new; only that Zimbabwe holds elections that meet already existing SADC guidelines.
This, more than shaming the innocent victims of misrule, is what will solve the crisis.