Mauritius, Lesotho, Malawi and Zambia The Pillars Of Democracy In Africa

It’s rather touching, the faith that we put in our regional body – even if it is misplaced. In all the furore over Robert Mugabe’s comments about that “idiotic street woman” Lindiwe Zulu, and her subsequent scolding from Jacob Zuma, there has been plenty of debate about the role of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and whether indulging Mugabe’s narcissism is really the best way to guarantee free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. There has been rather less debate about whether that’s what SADC really wants to achieve.

Robert Mugabe, The Dictator
The evidence does not necessarily support this conclusion. SADC, remember, is a representative body, except it doesn’t represent the likes of you and me. It represents governments, specifically those of its 15 member states (14, if you take into acount Madagascar’s suspension) – and those governments aren’t exactly the most progressive or enlightened around. In fact, with a couple of notable exceptions, the record of SADC member states for holding genuinely competitive elections is dismal.

Think about it. In Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos has held onto power since 1979 in what remains, effectively, a one party state. Botswana has been ruled by just one party since independence, with no serious opposition – this is also true for Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania. The last election in the Democratic Republic of Congo was highly problematic and clearly fixed, at least in part. Swaziland is an absolute monarchy, one of the last remaining in the world. The ruling party in the Seychelles seized power in a coup in 1977 and created a one party state; they haven’t lost an election, or come close, since the return to multiparty politics in the early 1990s.

And in South Africa, despite an obvious commitment to the democratic process, the ANC has strolled to election victories in every national poll since 1994.  The party has no experience, yet, of an opposition that poses a genuine threat to its power, or elections in which something other than a two-thirds majority is at stake.

That leaves Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius and Zambia as the only real flag bearers for the kind of oppositional democracy in which elections are more than just a rubber-stamping exercise, each having experienced at least one vote in which the people decided to install a new government – and were allowed to do so.

Navin Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of Mauritius
Yet, despite this obvious lack of experience with oppositional democracy, SADC has taken the lead in facilitating and overseeing Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections. This is a bit like letting Kenny Kunene run the gender commission, or putting Lance Armstrong in charge of drug testing at the Tour de France. If we’re surprised when SADC leaders aren’t falling over themselves to criticize Zimbabwe’s chaotic poll preparations, or elicit guarantees that violence won’t be used, or publicly investigate claims that the vote has already been fixed in Zanu-PF’s favour – well, that’s only because we’ve forgotten who SADC really represents.

Nonetheless, SADC’s leaders – Jacob Zuma chief among them, in his role of Facilitator – need Zimbabwe’s elections to go well. SADC has invested just about all of its political and diplomatic capital in overseeing Zimbabwe’s rehabilitation, and were instrumental in establishing the government of national unity which has just about kept Zimbabwe from complete anarchy. The interim government’s most notable achievement has been rescuing the Zimbabwean economy by replacing worthless Zim dollars with the altogether more reliable US dollars – an achievement for which SADC, by laying the groundwork, deserves some credit.

All this, however, will have been for nothing if the elections are obviously rigged or if there is a return to the kind of post-election violence which precipitated Zimbabwe’s political crisis in 2008. Unless Zimbabwe pulls off a credible election, SADC will have failed spectacularly after five years of assuring everyone who asked that its ‘quiet diplomacy’ had everything under control.
Credible, of course, does not mean free and fair. It does not mean transparent. As the 2011 elections in the DRC demonstrated, it’s a term that can incorporate a certain amount of ballot stuffing and its converse, the disappearance of votes; a certain amount of government intimidation; and an electoral commission that is far from impartial.

These are all things we’re likely to see in Zimbabwe, given the chaos in the build-up to the polls and Zanu-PF’s tight control over the key levers of power: the electoral commission and the security forces. And all will mitigate in favour of another Robert Mugabe election victory, thereby preserving the status quo so beloved of SADC leaders, and, oddly, decreasing the chances of widespread violence, which is far more likely if Mugabe loses (as was the case after the first round of the election in 2008).


  1. Sacco a bunch of losers and dictators.

    Christopher gill when SFP comes to power remove Seychelles from this club of communists and dictators balls licking.

  2. SADC as all the other African Organizations is the image of African incapacity to deliver.

    Even Mugabe a good Friend fo ZUMA called SADC envoy Lindiwe Zulu as"Zuma's SADC "street women".IT is aamizing to hear that from someoen who SADC has allowed to keep in power by palying a blind eyes in past elction fraud in Zimbabwe.

    SADC is a shame like African Union.Incompetency.

    Jeanne D'Arc

  3. SADC is cosmestic organization and old boy club and institute for heads of states.

    This week there was a summit in Angola attwnted by 15 Nations the summit enede without decisive plan on the polizical battles beseting the countries.

    The two-day regional summit was supposedly to make pronouncements on the progress to implememnting Zimbabwe Unity deal and a road map to new elelctions but instead reaffirmed a decision amde in JUne urging faster reforms.
    We could ask why Africans is stilkl poor after over 60 years of independence?The answer is Africans are genetic incapable as they have proven for the last 60 years.While other move forwards they move backward.

    It would probably take African a 1000thousand years more before maybe things wroks in Africa.But ONly if Africa have leaders with brains,competent and stop tribalism by democracy.

    Many say African is the next world economy.Well it could be only if Africans do things as other Nations.Selling out African natural resources to China and other countires will not amke Africa a powerful continent but just another form of colonilism.

    Jeanne D'Arc

  4. Seychelles does not belong to SADC.

    Seselwa Unite!

    Sesel Pou Seselwa!

    Christopher Gill
    Seychelles Freedom Party

  5. I agree seychelles should stop being Part of this comestic organization thathas done literally nithing in 31 years.Zimbabwe was one of its biggest challenge and it fails competely to Deal with Mugabe the Black Hitler and other important issues like promoting democracy etc...SADC has demonstrated that it is an obsolete Instituion that cannot influence change.We must alos recognize the incompetency os ZUMA who once tell South African that"If you have ssex with a HIV paertner,what you have to do to protect yourself from the VIRUS is simply take a bath"incrediable that a President can say such an nauseatic think like that.This shows us why African leaders in genral cannot do thinss and get things do as it should for simply Their way of thinkings is just not from this seems more voodoo inpsired and they ahve a mentality of the stone age.

    SADC failed in Mali conflicts, In sudan conflict,in Lybian conflicts,in promoting Democracy.governance etc.. in fact they promote Dictaotrship like that of PP by giving them Ficancial support,loans etc....

    We do not need SADC.

    Jeanne D'Arc


  6. Nearly one-third of Zimbabwe's registered voters are dead, and others appear to be babies or up to 120 years old, researchers said yesterday.

    They have called for the list to be overhauled so that the upcoming election cannot be rigged.

    The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network's report said that the anomalies opened the way for "double voting and other rigging intentions". The group found 2,344 voters between the ages of 101 and 110 still on Zimbabwe's voting rolls, a dubious figure in a country where the average life expectancy is a mere 44 years.
    The Independent

  7. Notorious Mugabe will not hesistat to add phantom names even that of Ghadafi,Idi Amin Dada,Sonny Abacha and other tyrannts if necesary,to keep a grip on power like PP.Oppostion that asked that the elction is delyaed in order to allow more time for medias refroms and security and Mugabe Chief Judge refuesed to do so(Like Radegon in Seychelles).In a word ZUMBABWE elections as in Seychelles is just window dressing ,in which the election is not decided by votes but by fraud.As stalin said"election is not decided by those who votes but by those who count the vote"An election that start in the court room rather than the poles are signs of unfair anf unfree election.

    Jeanne D'Arc

  8. Seychelles out of SADC!

  9. Has Michel the butcher already quit!For some months now FAURE seem no be unoffically PRESIDENT and super minister of all ministeries.He was in Africa as Health minister,Today in Assembly as Developemnt and economy minister parroting about oil exploitation .Note:That PP illegally amde contract in the past without any public scrutiny.Now that no one is exploiting FAURE suddenly feel that we should make new laws.But as always PP unilaterally decide and then throw it to MPS to vote ,without having the possiblity to bedates and share their views,and without any public participation.

    It seem GAPPY considersFAURE as SEMI -God and has the supernatural power to diecide alone without the people like in Venezula,Cuba,North Korea.

    GAPPY we have a right to know and we want to see this fake reform done by PP and RAM which process is undemocratic and untransparent and could probably not accepted by the PUBLIC.

    Accountability and transparency GAPPY,RAM,FAURE and PP.Eletion reforms concern every single citizen and the participation fof all stake-holders namely Oppostion parties,and civil society.

    Jeanne D'Arc


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