In what seems like the success of West Africa’s regional bloc, ECOWAS, in getting former leader of Gambia to concede defeat, Zimbabweans look at their current government and remember a time, some years back when the SADC failed to take a similar action.
The time was in 2008. Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) front-runner Morgan Tsvangirai was looking poised to clinch the presidential title from Mugabe, his party had even gone as far as announcing him the winner when it seemed like Tsvangirai had enough votes to succeed long-time leader Mugabe.
Zimbabwe’s electoral commission had later announced that Tsvangirai had won 50.3% of the vote, Mugabe 43.8% and former finance minister Simba Makoni, 7%. The Zimbabwe electoral commission, however, failed to announce the result until a month after the election. The ZEC announced that Tsvangirai had won with 47.9% of the vote and Mugabe 43.2%, hence, a run-off vote was required.
Although Tsvangirai had initially refused to contest a second time, reiterating that he had won the first round, he finally accepted the challenge to go to the polls a second time. Howbeit, the process was marked with great violence which caused Tsvangirai to withdraw from the polls while also urging his supporters to do the same as they risked being killed by voting for him. As a result, Mugabe won by 85.5%.
Where was the SADC?
Prior to the run-off election, Tsvangirai had called on African leaders, particularly the SADC, to act as mediators. Although the bloc did engage with the Zim government in presiding over the run-off, the bloc failed to do the needful. That is, they failed to challenge the call to a run-off despite admitting that the initial vote count was flawed.
The crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, another member of the SADC, caused by Joseph Kabila’s decision to remain in power beyond his two-term limit, is another instance in which people shame the SADC for being incompetent.
Here are what some online users had to say in comparison between SADC and ECOWAS.
Maybe more decisive ECOWAS should replace AU? Meanwhile Tanzania & Botswana were quick to disown Jammeh yet they have Kabila in SADC
— Jimmy Kainja (@jkainja) January 21, 2017
SADC supports #JKabila to illegally stay in office, ECOWAS sent their regional troops to evict former Gambian President. Where's corruption?
— Prince Abenge M (@AbengeMwali) December 29, 2016
@ProfJNMoyo Ecowas is a pro-active organization unlike our toothless SADC. Some of u would have gone in 2008
— Chris Danga (@chris_danga1) January 9, 2017