Sweet news for President Mnangagwa as SADC and AU back his govt’s project, Chamisa suffers huge blow


The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) have thrown their support behind a project spearheaded by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, indicating a potential closure on calls for fresh elections in Zimbabwe. The project, the multi-million-dollar Museum of African Liberation in Harare, has received endorsements from both regional bodies after discussions with Mnangagwa’s special envoy, ambassador Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

Implemented by the Institute of African Knowledge (INSTAK), the Museum of African Liberation is primarily backed by Mnangagwa’s administration. However, critics argue that the endorsements from SADC and the AU are effectively “sanitizing Mnangagwa’s illegal regime.” This has raised concerns, particularly since the SADC Election Observer Mission had previously highlighted several electoral irregularities but fell short of declaring the poll outcome illegitimate.

On January 25, 2024, Mumbengegwi met with the chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he delivered a message from Mnangagwa seeking the AU Commission’s support for the museum project. Mahamat expressed the AU Commission’s eagerness to collaborate on the initiative.

Just four days later, Mumbengegwi travelled to the SADC headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana, to discuss a similar memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SADC’s executive secretary, Elias Magosi. An official report on the SADC website stated that Magosi emphasized the project’s alignment with the region’s objectives, particularly in recognizing and honouring the founders of SADC for their contributions to the organization’s establishment and regional integration. The report further mentioned that future engagements and follow-ups on the project and MoU would be conducted between SADC, INSTAK, and the Zimbabwean embassy in Botswana.

The endorsement of Mnangagwa’s administration by SADC suggests that the regional bloc has put the Zimbabwe election issue behind them and is now focused on advancing bilateral ties. This development will likely dampen the opposition movement’s hopes for a poll re-run, despite some analysts deeming it unattainable.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced that Mnangagwa secured 52.6% of the vote, while Citizens Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa received 44.03% in a highly contested and chaotic poll. Chamisa rejected the election results and embarked on a diplomatic offensive, advocating for fresh elections.

As SADC and the AU throw their weight behind Mnangagwa’s Museum of African Liberation project, the opposition movement’s hopes for fresh elections appear to have been dealt a significant blow. The endorsements from these regional bodies have prompted skepticism and disappointment among some critics, who question the commitment to addressing electoral concerns. The future of Zimbabwe’s political landscape remains uncertain as internal divisions persist within the opposition and the ruling party continues to consolidate its power.

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