Namibian opposition leader Bernadus Swartbooi strongly criticized President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, calling him a “puppet of the Zimbabwean military.” Swartbooi expressed his disappointment with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for its failure to address Zimbabwe’s numerous acts of impunity both domestically and within the region.
During a press conference in Namibia, the leader of the Landless People’s Movement specifically condemned SADC for not reprimanding Zimbabwean authorities who verbally abused the bloc’s own election observers after they released a report denouncing Zimbabwe’s August election as fraudulent.
Swartbooi cited several instances where SADC remained silent regarding Zimbabwe’s alleged misconduct. He pointed out that the regional organization failed to take a stand against the military coup that took place in November 2017, which ousted former President Robert Mugabe and installed Mnangagwa as his successor.
According to Swartbooi, Zimbabwe was not suspended from SADC or the African Union (AU) despite the clear evidence of a coup. He criticized the lack of condemnation or suspension, stating that Zimbabwe got away with its actions, and Mnangagwa was installed as president by the military.
The Namibian politician described Mnangagwa’s re-election as “fraudulent and corrupt,” and he criticized SADC for accepting the incumbent president into the bloc, considering he was a beneficiary of a coup.
Swartbooi also accused Namibian President Hage Geingob of deviating from his constitutional responsibilities by congratulating Mnangagwa on his electoral victory, despite allegations of fraud.
Furthermore, the opposition leader mentioned a case where the Zimbabwean government pressured SADC to disband the SADC Tribunal, which had ruled in favour of a white Zimbabwean commercial farmer who successfully appealed a Supreme Court ruling against the seizure of his farm during the violent land reform process. The regional appeals court, based in Windhoek, Namibia, was dissolved as a result.
Swartbooi asserted that elections in Zimbabwe have been rigged even during the time when the late Morgan Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was in opposition.
Questioning the special treatment given to Zanu PF, the ruling party in Zimbabwe, Swartbooi expressed his concerns about the party’s disregard for the law and democratic principles, as well as the violence surrounding elections. He criticized SADC leaders for endorsing Mnangagwa’s disputed victory despite the concerns raised by poll observers about non-compliance with regional guidelines for credible elections.
In his scathing remarks, Swartbooi accused SADC of compromising its own credibility and integrity for the sake of Zanu PF. He questioned the loyalty shown to the party and emphasized the need to assess what Zimbabwe has done for neighbouring countries to deserve such unwavering support.
Swartbooi considered the current Zimbabwean administration a “caretaker government” appointed by Zanu PF itself. He expressed support for establishing a transitional authority to oversee Zimbabwean affairs and called for the expulsion of Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Namibia due to the allegations of election rigging.