I suppose no one can ever underestimate the dysfunction of African governments, but the support given Robert Mugabe by the Southern African Development Community has to serve as a singular moment of disgrace. The SDAC didn’t just ignore the increasingly brutal methods of Mugabe in clinging to power — they endorsed them:
Zimbabwe’s neighbours fell in behind the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe yesterday and demanded that the West lift all sanctions on his country.
With opposition growing at home and a crumbling economy, pressure was mounting on the heads of surrounding states to urge their friend and comrade to reconsider his position. But in a communiqué issued at the end of what was billed as a make-or-break summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), 14 leaders reaffirmed their solidarity with the veteran President of Zimbabwe.
Their words will come as a crushing blow to campaigners who believed the tide to be turning against his increasingly autocratic 27-year rule.
Mr Mugabe smiled as he pushed past rorters in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, and declared himself satisfied. “Excellent meeting,” he cried, clapping his hands gleefully, before climbing into a waiting limousine.
The SADC claims it pressured Mugabe into beginning a dialogue with his opposition, but Mugabe knows better than that. He just got a blank check from his neighbors to continue his purge. Not only that, but Mugabe got them to fight the Western sanctions on his country for him. It would be difficult to imagine how Mugabe could have gotten more of a free ride from his fellow members, unless they invited him to rule their nations as well.
As the SADC demanded that the West stop picking on poor Robert Mugabe, his goons hauled nine opposition leaders into court to accuse them of — get this — terrorism. They were charged with illegal possession of explosives as part of a conspiracy to set off gasoline bombs, which sounds like they have been charged with buying gasoline; no details on the charges have been brought forth. Their lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charges, but the court adjourned at night without ever having addressed it.
The moral failure of these African nations is complete. Even South Africa’s Mbeki collaborated in this shameful display, despite his nation’s courageous fight for its own representative government. I recall when people around the world boycotted his nation in solidarity with their struggle for freedom. Now South Africa aids and abets a bloody and incompetent tyrant, even to the point of scolding the same nations that supported his cause for not selling out to a thug. South Africans should feel shame and embarrassment for not assisting their real neighbors — those whom Mugabe has impoverished and oppressed for more than 27 years.