Sadc region lacks unity

The organisation which was born in 1980 as the Southern African Development Co-ordinating Conference (Sadcc) was aimed at economic development among member states. Zimbabwe, then four months old, was a founding member. The organisation has grown over the past 26 years and has seen the political independence of Namibia and South Africa, who are now members, and has expanded to include countries like Mauritius and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who were not members before. It was reconstituted in 1996 to become the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) as all members were now politically independent. Sadc is a powerful organisation that is ranked among regional continental blocs that can transform the face of Africa. In numerical terms, it is second only to the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). But it boasts of having the continent’s biggest economy as its member ‘ South Africa. Other members that make up the organisation are rich in natural resources. It is a region that the world at present cannot afford to ignore. For example, Angola has what the United States needs most ‘ oil. The DRC has diamonds, Zambia has copper which is fetching high prices at the world market at the moment and Zimbabwe has platinum which is scarce in the West, just to mention a few. What baffles me is that right now Zimbabwe is a beggar that is sitting on a beach of gold. Addressing the Press alongside President Mugabe, Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika said Sadc as a region is not united. He said in times of trouble, we should help each other just as the European Union (EU) does. When a member of the EU is in financial or whatever distress, regardless of political differences they might have ‘ for example, on Iraq ‘ they mobilise resources to bail it out. Turkey, once branded “the sick man of Europe” after World War II, is being aided to integrate into the EU. The EU closed ranks at the instigation of Britain to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. They have a single currency, the euro, albeit Britain and Sweden are not part. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), an economic grouping in Asia, is also handy when one or more members are in trouble. US President George W. Bush attends its summits. Zimbabwe at the moment is facing its worst economic problems since independence when it is in a grouping which has countries that can help it. Picture this scenario. There was talk of South Africa last year waiting to lend Zimbabwe about US$500 million, but all that fizzled out. This is despite the fact that South Africa has foreign currency reserves of about US$43 billion. Botswana has foreign currency reserves of almost three years. Angola is the second biggest producer of crude oil in Africa. Wouldn’t Zimbabwe have been loaned by South Africa and oil allowed to flow from Angola and payments arranged in the true African spirit? Wouldn’t this have demonstrated unity and co-operation? Wouldn’t this have shamed the detractors in the West? Sadc should demonstrate a spirit of unity and co-operation. The West is using divide-and-rule tactics on Sadc. They don’t want a black country to help another black country. When Zimbabwe went to help the DRC in 1998, it was criticised. Criticised for helping a fellow brother against aggression. Even amongst ourselves we gossip about each other. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) rule is that “an attack on one is an attack on all of us”. In Sadc the suffering of one should be the suffering of all of us in spite of the limited resources at our disposal. Former US President Ronald Reagan once said: “When bad men combine, the good must co-operate or else”. If we don’t co-operate in the face of neo-colonialism we are doomed. The neo-colonialists are happy when they see a Zimbabwean being lashed in Botswana, a Zimbabwean being deported from South Africa. Why would the US establish a military base in Botswana? They want to plunder the diamonds under the guise of protecting Botswana from an invasion. Invasion by who? Nonsense. Sadc heads of state and government should revisit their constitution and make amendments, if any, to suit the present New World Economic Order. ‘ The Herald.

May 2006
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