THE drama around a Chinese vessel that is said to be carrying an arms cargo destined for Zimbabwe has thrown the Southern African Development Community (SADC) into a tailspin. The actions of a number of SADC nations on the coastline to prohibit docking and discharge of the Zimbabwean cargo is tantamount to a blockade or trade embargo and is very dangerous. The very least these countries could have done would have been to seek a coordinated response by SADC and not allow unilateral actions against a member country in contravention of all standing agreements. These SADC nations should have acted with common purpose and great circumspect to avoid setting a dangerous precedent. When individual nations and not the SADC bloc decides to intervene in trade matters of another country, such action naturally raises eyebrows and compromises SADC principles. While nation states have the sovereign right to follow their conscience and laws, they are equally bound by international obligations and treaties to discharge certain duties and services in keeping with international agreements. Never in the history of this organisation nor its predecessor - the Frontline States has there been such outright despicable conduct by members. Information and Communication Technology Minister, Joel Kaapanda, is right when he questions the hysteria around the shipment of arms to Zimbabwe. The arms and ammunition in question are standard weapons. It also appears the cargo was ordered way before the current impasse hence the order can by no means be ascribed to the current situation in Zimbabwe. Those implying otherwise are simply throwing the net too wide. But look who has joined the critics of the arms shipment - the United States. Does that surprise anybody? This is a country that is distributing arms to Sunni militia groups in Iraq and thus fuelling a civil war in that country. Our local campaigners against the Zimbabwean arms shipment like the Legal Assistance Centre know this too well but will never raise a finger at this anomaly. They dare not. Remember Jonas Savimbi who paid for his weapons to create mayhem in Angola - the Americans. Where were the moral crusaders like the LAC and others? The only surprise is of course President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia and SADC chairman who seems to have discarded all conventional wisdom that governs SADC Member States protocols. And perhaps, this points to the beginning of the end of the dream child that is SADC - a respectable and bona fide regional organisation that does not bend to the whims of others. What is emerging is a SADC that cannot uphold the sanctity and sacred values of the African revolution and unity as symbolised by the founding fathers of the Front Line States that gave birth to SADC. A southern African community of nations whose aim was freedom and built around its very best sons Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Mwalimu Nyerere, Samora Machel, Augustino Neto and Sam Nujoma is now mired in a leadership crisis, hence the desecration of what these pioneers of the African struggle stood for. All but one of Southern Africa's visionaries are no more and their revolution is under merciless attack. What awaits the sub-region is a reversal of the gains that they championed. There is a chill running down the spine of SADC. The Zimbabwe issue is likely to define the contours of this sub regional grouping forever as solidarity and common purpose give way to individualism and unilateralism. SADC faces its greatest challenge ever as factionalism and poor chemistry between leaders come to the fore. The organisation will never will never be the same. Zimbabwe is a perfect example of a revolution under attack. That country is seeing the revival and arrival of neo-colonial designs that would take back what imperial and colonial powers lost through decolonisation. It forms a key battleground in the West's fight to spread its tentacles in the region. The fuss over Zimbabwe is not about democracy or elections. It is about making that country a client State. Zimbabwe is southern Africa's Iraq where the US and Britain want to have an outpost from where to spread their influence. It is a test ground on how to effect regime change through other means. In Iraq, the US and Britain bombed their way into that country to effect regime change. In Zimbabwe, regime change is being effected through scare tactics, strangulation, coercion and the use of surrogate forces under the guise of democratisation. Last but not least, we implore local campaigners against the shipment of arms to Zimbabwe, the likes of the Legal Assistance Centre and fellow travellers in South Africa to switch tact and refocus on home soil where armed violence against innocent civilians is no mean feat. After 'successfully' de-campaigning the Zimbabwe arms delivery, can they now fight for a gun freeze or ban in Namibia and South Africa where there are high levels of violence with the same zeal. Off course, they will not and please do not ask us why because your guess is as good as ours.
2008-04-25 00:00:00 10 years ago