West’s divisive exploits more pronounced
THE Sadc summit winds up in South Africa today amid great expectations for the future. The region has just gone through one of its most trying seasons since its formation. Perhaps the other time that it had such challenging moments was when it was called upon to defend the Democratic Republic of Congo from foreign invasion — a task that only saw Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia respond. The months leading to the South African summit have seen the divisive exploits of the West become pronounced, using Zimbabwe’s political and economic challenges as the pretext for weakening one of the continent’s strongest regional blocs.
The former colonial masters have never been happy at any attempt to unite Africa. Regional blocs such as Sadc are also seen as the building blocks for much stronger African unity. As a result they have been systematically weakened through divide and rule tactics. Ecowas in West Africa, with so much promise, has not been able to achieve much and so have the groupings in East Africa and North Africa.
But Sadc, born out of the liberation ethos of the Frontline States, has proved to be more resilient. Its roots in liberation movements have helped it survive even after it had transformed itself into an economic and trading grouping. Yet it is the liberation movements that are in government in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and South Africa that the West wants either removed from power or their influence diluted. African nationalism gives the West sleepless nights, hence persistent attempts to replace it with neo-liberalism.
As South African President Thabo Mbeki takes over as chairman we can expect him to strengthen the regional body, which has not fared well in the last year under the chairmanship of Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa. The region needs a leader who cannot be bullied by the West. Mbeki has repeatedly proved his mettle as a leader who stands his ground against the arm of imperialism. It certainly has not been easy for him mediating the Zimbabwean situation, where the British and the Americans want to impose their will on the people of Zimbabwe.
Africans must continue to demonstrate their ability to find solutions to their own problems, informed by their history and their culture. It is for this reason that the region is shocked by the un-African approach over Zimbabwe taken by the new leadership of Botswana. Botswana President Retired Lieutenant-General Seretse Khama Ian Khama is boycotting the Sadc summit protesting the presence of President Mugabe whom he says he does not recognise as President.
This is a surprising stance taken by a president who is yet to face an election yet judges those that have repeatedly subjected themselves to elections. But what is more surprising is Khama’s departure from the African way of dealing with disagreements, opting to go the way of the Europeans. This is, however, not consistent with the behaviour of previous Botswana heads of state such as Sir Kethumile Masire and President Festus Mogae, who were subjected to similar pressure from the Americans to make Botswana their project but still held on to their African values.
In recent months, Zimbabwe has come under extreme provocation from Botswana, but has resisted attempts to draw it into an open confrontation with its neighbour. Returning from the African Union summit early last month President Mugabe pronounced himself clearly on Zimbabwe’s relations with its neighbours. He said Zimbabwe will continue to pursue a policy of good neighbourliness and peaceful co-existence. He said: "We don’t intend to fight any neighbour. We are a peaceful country, but if there is any country itching for a fight, let them try it and they will test the salt of that fight." Good neighbourliness and peaceful co-existence must remain the guiding principle not only of Zimbabwe but also of all the other Sadc countries. Sadc must continue to move from strength to strength.
Succumbing to American projects such as the controversial United States African Military Command (Africom), which Botswana is coveting, will only have the effect of introducing a spirit of war and plunder into the region. Wherever the Americans have introduced their political and economic projects, peace has evaporated. The Russian-Georgian conflict is just a case in point. Commenting on this conflict, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hit the nail on the head when he remarked: "I am just about certain that it was the United States president, the imperialist George Bush, who ordered Georgia’s troops to South Ossetia, killing innocent people, and Russia acted logically." We may as well join him in saying we are just about certain that it is the same George Bush urging Botswana to pull out of Sadc and be a launch pad for war against peaceful neighbours.
Will Botswana be Sadc’s Georgia? Only time will tell.
West’s divisive exploits more pronounced