ZIMBABWE did not come up for discussion at the Sadc Extraordinary Summit held here yesterday, where regional leaders expressed concern over the humanitarian and security situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), President Mnangagwa has said.
The summit took the opportunity to provide strategic guidance on the deployment of the Sadc Mission to restore peace in the eastern part of DRC, where 600 000 people have been reportedly displaced since violence broke out in the last two years.
In an interview at the end of the summit, President Mnangagwa said the discussions had been fruitful. Asked if Zimbabwe came up for discussion, he said: “These things happen in society; not everybody is a priest, so you find these things happening. But we are so alert that we were going to deal with the things that are relevant to the summit which was called for. This (was an) Extraordinary Summit, which means there was a particular subject we were going to discuss.”
The agenda of yesterday’s meeting put paid to the narrative peddled by political activists that Zimbabwe’s 23-24 August elections would be on the agenda. The summit, which started late afternoon, was officially opened by Sadc chairperson and Angolan President João Lourenço.
Regional leaders raised concern over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern DRC, where the resumption of attacks and occupation of territory by the insurgent M23 rebels was considered a clear violation of the ceasefire.
The summit then provided strategic guidance on the deployment of the Sadc Mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC) to restore peace and security. Reading out the communiqué at the end of the meeting, Sadc Executive Secretary Mr Elias Magosi said: “The summit commended member states that have committed additional pledges towards deploying the SAMIDRC. Summit reiterated the need for Sadc to spearhead efforts towards mobilisation of resources for facilitating peace and security in the Sadc region. These efforts include reviving discussions to establish and operationalise the Sadc Peace Fund and engaging international cooperating partners.”
The summit, he also said, received an update on elections in Sadc member states and noted the report of the Sadc Electoral Observation Mission to the harmonised elections in Zimbabwe held in August, as well as the general elections in Eswatini in September.
Added Mr Magosi: “Summit wished the Republic of Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo peaceful and successful elections as the two Sadc member states hold their elections in November and December 2023, respectively, and reiterated Sadc’s support through the deployment of the Sadc Electoral Observation Mission.
“Summit reiterated the urgent need for all stakeholders, in particular political parties in the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Lesotho, to ensure that the reform process is brought to finality in the interest of national political, economic and security stability.”
The region also commended efforts by President Lourenço, as the designated facilitator by the African Union (AU), in bringing peace in eastern DRC.
The Sadc chair, supported by the Organ Troika, was also mandated to intensify diplomatic efforts between the DRC and Rwanda to bring lasting peace in the DRC.
Other leaders who attended yesterday’s summit include DRC President Félix Tshisekedi, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema and President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania.
Also present were Lesotho Prime Minister Samuel Matekane; Namibia Vice-President Dr Nangolo Mbumba; Botswana Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Lemogang Kwape; Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malawi Nancy Gladys Tembo; Mozambique Foreign Affairs and Co-operation Minister Verónica Dlhovo; and Eswatini Principal Secretary, Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, Ms Thabisile Mlangeni.