President Robert Mugabe tenure as chair of SADC is coming to an end in less than 12 weeks from now with very little to talk about in terms of his achievements at the helm of the regional bloc whose economic inequalities were recently exposed by xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
Mugabe’s reign though largely symbolic was touted by local state owned press as an opportunity the leader would transform SADC and turn it into an economic hub less depended on Western donations to run its activities.
Bulawayo based analyst Dumisani Nkomo said, “Mugabe did nothing of note even on xenophobia there was nothing significant.”
Nkomo’s sentiments were shared by Harare independent analyst Charles Mangongera.
“I don’t think he has achieved anything significant. The public media has vainly tried to create the impression that his chairmanship was in recognition of some imagined leadership capabilities but the reality is that this is just a routine position gained from a rotation system,” Mangongera said.
Mugabe’s failures are further amplified by the manner in which the region’s industrialization policy id being formulated in Washington along neo-liberal economic designs when he is an avowed pan-Africanist and socialist.
The analysts argue Mugabe will go down as having presided over the regional industrialization policy made and most likely funded by Washington’s neoliberal Bretton-Woods institutions.
SADC Executive Secretary Lawrence Tax confirmed the same during the official ministers meeting ahead of the summit of Heads of States and Governments on industrialization by 2063.
“We received invaluable support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and GIZ, in order to push this process far. We are very grateful for their invaluable technical and financial support throughout this journey,” Tax said.
“While the decision to re-orient SADC regional integration with proper linkages between industrialization and market liberalization, is indeed a timely decision, the strategy will bear the intended only if matched with practical actions, and needed resources, both human and financial,” she warned.
Mugabe’s main blight will be his loaded silence and lethargic response to the xenophobic attacks that rocked South Africa mostly against foreign African immigrants.
His position was made worse by South Africa President Jacob Zuma and his Botswana counterpart public statements that SADC countries must manage their economies better to stem the tide of their nationals migrating in search of greener pastures.
Mugabe was left with no option but attack his own nationals who statisticians say are the majority of the estimated 2,5 million immigrants in South Africa.
“It’s not for South Africa to resolve alone. It’s for us the neighbouring countries,” Mugabe said.
“Our people shouldn’t have the instinct of rushing to South Africa. Even those who went to universities, they want to remain there and I suppose it’s the life which attracts them,” he added.
Mugabe’s minimal SADC achievements which mainly compromise on organizing and chairing routine meetings are also reflected in his leadership of the continental body- African Union.
The analysts believe Mugabe has deliberately stayed away from tackling the continent’s pressing issues such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabaab in East Africa, the Sudan civil war and the Burundi attempted coup.
They conclude, it could be that Mugabe realized that problems are not solved by rhetoric and unfortunately he has no practical means to solve the problems more so that he is failing to address Zimbabwe’s political and economic woes.