Why would SADC risk confrontation with Zim regime whilst citizens act as if all is well?

by Tendai Ruben Mbofana

So, another meeting of SADC (Southern African Development Community) heads of state has come and gone without the much anticipated ‘resolution on flawed elections recently held in Zimbabwe’!

Of course, there were no surprises there!

In fact, people as myself and a few others had already warned Zimbabweans, prior to these summits, that there was really no logic in expecting any firm stance from the regional body towards the ZANU PF regime.

I made it very clear that this was merely a ‘gentlemen’s club’ of predominantly like-minded leaders who would never condemn one another over such things as rigged and fraudulent electoral processes.

It is always so energy-sucking and exasperating whenever I witness Zimbabweans still harbouring some self-deceiving hopes in SADC coming out with a resolution that risks a direct confrontation with their allies in ZANU PF.

That is why I initially had resolved never to write about this election issue again – as I had grown weary and given up on ever getting through to my fellow compatriots.

In so doing, today I was actually planning to write on the deplorable internet connectivity in the country that we have been experiencing over quite a considerable period.

This has been causing intolerable inconvenience in our personal and business operations.

I wanted to interrogate why POTRAZ (Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe) kept approving data tariff increases, yet never demanding a reciprocal improvement in quality service from these internet providers.

It is as if the regulatory authority was actually defending these companies, in spite of their sub-standard service – even disturbingly acting as their mouthpiece.

As a matter of fact, that is the main reason the SADC extraordinary virtual summit held yesterday (31st October 2023) was adjourned to 4th November 2023 – where leaders will meet physically in Luanda, Angola, to finalize their agenda.

This was after the virtual meeting could not proceed flawlessly on account of persistent internet connectivity challenges.

Nonetheless, I felt compelled to give the matter of elections one more push since the fate of my beloved country is the whole purpose of my existence.

There is no way I will ever have any peace in my mind if I keep quiet.

What I fail to understand, though, is why are Zimbabweans so adamant in placing their hopes on delusions and wishful thinking?

On what grounds do we honestly believe that a grouping of buddies as SADC would wilfully enter into a fight with the vicious and vindictive ZANU PF government – knowing fully well the fierce angry backlash from a regime that does not take kindly to criticism?

In all this, while those who are supposed to have been aggrieved by the flagrantly stolen elections are going about their daily business as if all was well.

We all need to remember one critical issue.

There is no country in the region that regularly and consistently conducts genuinely free, fair, and credible elections in compliance with regional guidelines and principles governing democratic elections.

The only exceptions are South Africa, Botswana, and possibly Zambia.

As such, the vast majority of southern African states lack the moral high ground to hold anyone else to account for violating the same rules, by which they themselves are not abiding.

The only country with any semblance of moral authority, which also possesses regional and continental clout, is South Africa.

However, President Cyril Ramaphosa has already thrown his weight fully behind his Zimbabwe counterpart Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

So, what is there to expect from the other fifteen member states?

That is why during similar hotly disputed and controversial elections in the early 2000s, then president Robert Gabriel Mugabe warned regional leaders that ‘those who lived in glass houses should never throw stones’ – after SADC had dared call a meeting to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe.

This was an ominous threat that they all understood very clearly – such that, save only for then Zambia president Levy Mwanawasa, the issue of Zimbabwe elections was ignored and cast into the dustbin.

We have already seen how the Harare administration will react when their misdeeds and misdemeanours are exposed.

After the release of a damning preliminary report by the SEOM (SADC Election Observer Mission) soon after the 23rd and 24th August harmonized elections – both the ruling ZANU PF party and Zimbabwe regime went into a furious feverish personal attack on the mission’s head Nevers Mumba.

This did not stop there, but the vitriolic onslaught was extended to the Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema – who had not only appointed Mumba (in his capacity as chair of the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation), but is viewed as sympathetic with the opposition CCC.

Those in power in Zimbabwe did their best in portraying these two as ‘puppets of the West’ – a now all too familiar and tired label for those opposed to the ZANU PF regime.

In fact, the sudden return to politics by former Zambia president Edgar Lungu – who had announced his retirement from active politics after his electoral defeat by Hichilema in 2021 – is widely suspected to be the work of ZANU PF, who are hell-bent on revenge.

It is a good thing that there were really no skeletons of any significance discovered in Mumba and Hichilema’s cupboards – otherwise, the Zimbabwe ruling elite would have had a field day parading their dirty linen in public.

No wonder the pathetic attempt at an exposé documentary by the state broadcaster ZBC (entitled, ‘The Grand Regional Plot’) was a huge embarrassing flop – as there was really nothing of substance to reveal to the world.

The same, nevertheless, can not be said for other SADC countries whose own elections are usually marked by violence, massive irregularities, and brazen human rights violations.

Surely, what would the Mnangagwa administration do to all those who today had the audacity to stand with the SEOM report – opting to condemn Zimbabwe’s shambolic August elections?

Which regional leader would want to invite the full wrath of the Zimbabwe regime in the inevitable event of their own fraudulent, flawed, and chaotic elections?

Is that not similar to someone helping the hangman set up his gallows, only for him to be later executed at the same place himself – in typical ‘Haman fashion’, as in the Bible?

That is why Mugabe’s ‘those who live in glass houses should never throw stones’ warning worked like a charm!

Zimbabwe will be asked to lead several SEOM teams to observe future elections in the southern Africa region – and they will be baying for blood, ready to exert the same embarrassment on those who supported the Mumba report

No leader is prepared for such a scenario.

Again, I ask: why would any Zimbabwean, in their right, seriously believe that SADC would hold an extraordinary summit that comes out with resolutions which may place at least thirteen member states on the collision course with the Mnangagwa regime?

As such, that is why the agenda for the recently-held virtual SADC summit was mainly focused on the events playing out in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) – where SADC may deploy a peace mission into the eastern part of the war-torn country.

The Zimbabwe issue was not really on the agenda, except only for ‘receiving an update on recent elections in the region’.

That can never be a cause for excitement and wild anticipation on the part of Zimbabweans.

That is why, before even getting down to the job at hand, the current SADC chair, Angola’s João Lourenço, immediately hailed elections in Zimbabwe and Eswatini as ‘tranquil, orderly, and exemplary’?

If any debate or discussion on Zimbabwe was on the table, there was no way the chair was to give his own views before any proceedings were held – as that would be compromising the purpose and integrity of the meeting.

It would have been akin to a court judge describing an accused person as a ‘good, honest, and decent man’ before the trial has even started.

Besides, what moral high ground could a president of a country as Angola hold – considering how their own elections lack any semblance of freeness, fairness, and credibility?

Anyway, let us say, for argument’s sake, the Zimbabwe issue was indeed on the agenda.

What exactly were the regional leaders expected to discuss and come up with?

We need to remember that, as much as the SEOM final report identified areas in Zimbabwe’s elections that fell short of our own laws and regional guidelines governing democratic elections – these was packaged as mere recommendations for future elections.

There were never any calls for fresh elections or anything else beyond advising any aggrieved parties to seek internal or domestic legal recourse.

Therefore, even in the unlikely event of SADC actually discussing and debating the SEOM final report – possibly during the 4th November meeting – what else can they come out with, except urging ‘aggrieved parties to seek internal and domestic legal recourse’?

Some of us have made it clear that there is only one thing which can force SADC to finally sit up and take the dire horrendous situation in Zimbabwe with the seriousness it deserves.

Zimbabweans themselves have to show that we are angry and outraged over the brazen unashamed flouting of our inalienable right to elect leaders of our choosing.

This is a right for which thousands lost their lives during the protracted liberation struggle that brought independence to Zimbabwe – thereafter enshrined and protected in our Constitution.

If we ourselves are not bothered to show not only those who are bastardizing our electoral processes, but also the international community, that we demand our rights – who else are we expecting to fight on our behalf?

Let us not be daft!

It becomes even more absurd and bizarre when we place our hope in regional leaders who are actually friends with those oppressing us – who will always stand together, under whatever circumstances.

The only way SADC will come running to Zimbabwe is after citizens themselves express, fearlessly and unflinchingly, their utter disgruntlement and displeasure with how the elections were conducted.

If we, for instance, resolve to stay in our homes for an agreed length of time – thereby virtually bringing the country to a standstill – then the regional body may finally take us a bit more seriously

No one needs to go onto the streets – where they will likely be shot, in cold blood, as happened in August 2018 and January 2019, by the blood-thirsty regime.

A stayaway is exactly what the name implies – we stay away from any activities outside our homes.

This is something for which we do not even require permission from the authorities, under the MOPA (Maintenance of Order and Peace Act) – since citizen would simply be staying in their houses without picketing or demonstrating.

If we are still not prepared to undertake something so simple and safe, then we are not genuine in our complaints.

In other words, we are not suffering as we always want the world to believe – otherwise, we would not even need anyone to prod us into action.

As the situation currently stands, we just have to accept our fate and move on.

Whether we want to hear this or not – but our actions speak louder than our words – and this ‘action’ (or more accurately, ‘inaction’) proves that we are not yet ready for positive change in our country.

So, we honestly expect SADC to fight their comrades in ZANU PF on our behalf, whilst we sit back and relax!


If that is not the case, then what logic is there in placing our hope in regional leaders who believe our openly flawed and fraudulent elections were actually ‘tranquil, orderly, and exemplary’?

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:, or visit website:

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