Forget the different interpretations from the country’s political protagonists; one thing that stands out prominently is that the regional leaders stamped their feet down and shot down Mugabe’s self serving push for polls this year.
Naturally, President Mugabe should find himself sulking that his younger peers have “back stabbed” him, having sent emissaries to them prior to the Luanda summit to urge them to back his call for early polls.
Although his praise singers try to play down the SADC summit outcome, his game plan has been frustrated by the SADC decision.
In the absence of any democratic reforms prescribed in the unity document, the 88 year old Mugabe was hoping to snatch a poll victory that was going to guarantee his continued stranglehold on the country’s political affairs.
SADC saw through Mugabe’s self serving manoeuvres to secure another term through a rushed poll at the expense of a battered nation.
Should elections be held later than he wished, Mugabe, may not be fit to withstand the rigorous campaign period against his younger opponents, prominent among them, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
We are now in a political era where what Zanu (PF) says no longer obtains. The political dynamics have shifted and there are other political players that are making decisions that are charting the country’s political course.
Yes, Mugabe can make unilateral appointments of his loyalists into top government and military positions but cannot make unilateral decisions on elections.
The Zanu (PF) congress in Mutare, December 2010 came out with a resolution that there was going to be an election in 2011. That was not to be. The party’s Bulawayo conference last year also resolved to hold an election in 2012.
The recent visit by UN rights chief, Navi Pillay, has also put Mugabe’s regime under uncomfortable scrutiny on how it would handle rights issues ahead of the country’s watershed polls.
Given all these militating factors, one cannot resist agreeing with MDC-T secretary general and Finance Minister Tendai Biti that the SADC summit outcome was a game changer, and a significant one at that.