Foreign Policy Blogs

SADC Tightens The Noose on Mugabe

First off, I want to apologize if any of you feel as if I have allowed the crisis in Zimbabwe to hijack the South Africa blog. But all along I have cinceived of this as a blog about Southern Africa, with South Africa at the center. Right now the events in Zimbabwe are arguably the most salient on the continent outside of Sudan, and as long as that is the case, I’ll feel a sense of responsibility to cover that crisis wherever it leads.<p>

In potentially explosive move the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Monday called for “an extraordinary summit” in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. Southern African leaders have scrambled to change schedules to consider Zimbabwe's crisis.  SADC intends to deal with the crisis that Robert Mugabe has wrought in his reeling homeland. There is talk from former information minister under Mugabe and now opposition leader Jonathan Moyo that Mugabe is facing his last days. Moyo has talked about possible coups and how Mugabe's back is against the wall.

It is certain that the region's leaders intend to send a clear message to Mugabe who will have his chance to respond but who must feel as if the vice is squeezing. Knowing this, before he took off for Tanzania Mugabe today had Morgan Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwe opposition leader who was brutally beaten by Mugabe's police last week, arrested with a number of other opposition members.

As Moyo points out, it is unlikely that this summit will end with any sort of ultimatum or even harsh words of condemnation. That tends not to be how SADC works even when expressing displeasure with one of their own. But the message will be clear. Mugabe will have to clean up the mess he has made or he will become an official regional pariah and he will no longer be able to expect even begrudging support from the region. They will encourage him to retire. Perhaps they will find a way to allow him to do so without losing face. recently there were indications that Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba might be willing to provide Mugabe with a cushy exile.  Such a solution might not represent the ideal outcome for those who might want to see true justice done, but now is not the time to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.