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Mugabe Tantrum at SADC Comes to Light

Business Day (Johannesburg)


Dumisani Muleya

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe stormed out of the recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit after an explosive clash with Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa during a closed session, it has emerged.

Mugabe’s confrontation with Mwanawasa and his subsequent indignant departure from the meeting raised fears that the already divided regional bloc could be further weakened by further infighting and divisions.

The SADC is riddled with geo-political and personal rivalries among leaders which threaten to make it difficult to deal with internal conflicts and rein in rogue states. Mugabe’s fracas with Mwanawasa was reminiscent of his row with former South African president Nelson Mandela during a SADC meeting in Angola in 1997.

Diplomatic sources who attended the summit revealed this week that Mugabe walked out of the meeting after a row with Mwanawasa over Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis.

The sources said Mugabe went off in a huff after the unprecedented confrontation. Mwanawasa was chairing the meeting, which ended on a sour note.

The wrangle was caused by an attempt by Mwanawasa to table Zimbabwe for discussion, a move which enraged Mugabe.

Mugabe arrived home early looking glum after hurriedly leaving the summit. Upon his return, he said the meeting went well but made it clear his regime would continue with its own programmes, regardless of what the SADC leaders were saying.

The SADC said it was preparing an economic recovery package for Zimbabwe, but Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, said in his anonymous column in the government-controlled daily Herald that Zimbabwe did not need help from the region because “no aid cent will come from SADC countries”, reflecting Mugabe’s attitude after the summit.

This was contrary to President Thabo Mbeki’s claims that there were no divisions over Zimbabwe at the summit and that the SADC was committed to helping Zimbabwe out of its crisis. He had described reports of division as “fictional” and said SADC leaders were not at odds over Zimbabwe.

But information gleaned from senior SADC diplomats indicates there were not just divisions, but a fierce clash between Mugabe and Mwanawasa that left the regional leaders shocked. They say the trouble started after Mbeki del-ivered his report on talks between the Zimbabwean ruling party Zanu (PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Mbeki had earlier given the report to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the chairman of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security. Mbeki briefed the summit on Zimbabwe in his capacity as an SADC-appointed mediator .

Mbeki said in his briefing there was progress in the talks, although parties needed to intensify negotiations.

“After Mbeki delivered his report to the summit, Mwanawasa, as the chair of the meeting, said there was an urgent need to discuss Zimbabwe because the situation there had become ‘unacceptable’.

Kikwete said there was no need to discuss it because talks were in progress and Mbeki concurred,” a senior diplomat said. “Kikwete then suggested Mugabe should be asked what he thought about Mwanawasa’s proposal.

When Mugabe was given the platform to speak he launched an angry tirade, attacking Mwanawasa left, right and centre before walking out in protest.”

The diplomat said Mugabe angrily asked: “Who are you, Mwanawasa? Who are you? Who do you think you are?”

“Mugabe also said he was aware of Mwanawasa’s recent meetings with western intelligence agencies on Zimbabwe. He said he would ‘not allow Mwanawasa to sell out Zimbabwe as he has done to Zambia’,” the diplomat said.

“During the process Mwanawasa was shaken and he kept on saying: ‘Mr President I didn’t mean to say that; you misunderstood me. No, Mr President, that was not my intention’ .”

Sources said Mugabe, after blasting Mwanawasa, walked out and did not return.

Efforts by colleagues – including Kikwete and Mbeki – to persuade him to return to the meeting failed.



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SOUTHERN Africa Development Community (SADC) member states are working on modalities for the establishment of a single currency unit for the region by 2018, deputy executive secretary, Joao Caholo, has said.

Mr Caholo said that SADC had already created a Macroeconomic Surveillance and Performance Unit at the secretariat in Botswana to facilitate for among other things, the creation of a monetary union.Speaking in an interview in Lusaka over the weekend, Mr Caholo said that SADC member states were also working on reducing the inflation levels for the SADC region to single digit.

He said the committee of central banks was monitoring the region’s direction towards single digit inflation. Meanwhile, SADC director of infrastructure development, Remmy Makumbe, has said that the provision of quality infrastructure is key to sustaining growth in trade and business in the Southern African region. sadcmap.jpg

Mr Makumbe who is based at the SADC secretariat in Botswana said that improved infrastructure was important to facilitate the handling of imports and exports among member states.

Speaking in Lusaka when he featured on ZNBC TV’s SADC special program earlier in the week, Mr Makumbe said that the challenge that SADC member states faced was to attract additional investments to support infrastructure development.

“Infrastructure development is one of the key challenges that we have in the region and we are putting up measures to attract investment in this area,” he said.Mr Makumbe said that there was need to strengthen the Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the provision of infrastructure. “PPP is key to infrastructure development hence we are encouraging a lot of players to participate in the sector,” he said.He noted that Zambia was one such country in the region that had put up measures to boost infrastructure development and cited the development of the Kafue Lower Hydro power plant as one of the facilities aimed at mitigating the impact.

Mr Makumbe said that SADC member states were developing a framework that would support infrastructure development in various sectors of the economies.

At the same meeting, Transport and Communications Permanent Secretary, Peter Tembo, said that Zambia would ensure the implementation of SADC programmes.

Retired Brigadier General Tembo also said that Zambia had many trading partners by the fact that the country was landlocked. “The fact that Zambia is a landlocked country is a blessing to us because some countries have fewer neighbors hence they have fewer trading partners,” he said.

Zambia is hosting the SADC Heads of States and Government Summit in Lusaka this week.


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Barely two weeks since the current US First Lady Laura Bush visited the Zambian Enterprise, Bill Clinton jets in … Former US President William Jefferson Clinton will be in Zambia tomorrow, Friday July 20th, 2007.

He arrived in Johannesburg this Wednesday via the Dominican Republic to start his second African tour … this will be his first ever visit to Zambia and we hope he would find it memorably nolstagic compared to any African nation he has ever visited.

While in Johannesburg, he met President Mbeki and spent time at the city hall where he met with Johannesburg city officials, who are implementing the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Programme. 

He will be in Malawi earlier and will hold a closed-door meeting with President Bingu wa Mutharika at the New State House in Lilongwe for 30 minutes. His entourage will then visit the construction site of a rural hospital established by the Clinton-Hunter Development Initiative and Partners in Health.  

President Clinton last year partnered with Scottish philanthropist Tom Hunter and unveiled  two plans to initiate rural growth centres in Malawi. He jets into Zambia Friday afternoon and will attend a youth outreach soccer tournament hosted by local leaders to appeal to young people in Zambia about the importance of HIV/AIDS testing. 

After spending the early part of this coming weekend in Zambia, he will fly to Tanzania on Sunday and is expected back in the United States of America by Tuesday next week. The 42nd president is largely viewed as the ‘first black president’ of America because of his closeness to causes of African Americans and his interest in developing Africa.

The Zambian Chronicle wishes the former US President a memorable stay and God Speed as he enjoys Zambian hospitality while he conducts his business within the Enterprise – Zambia The Beautiful … thanks a trillion. 

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

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