The Importance Of SADC’s Political And Military Interventionism

“Unfortunately there were a number of casualties amongst people that our family knows, which has been difficult for the kids. A girl in our son’s class that also rides the kids’ school bus was wounded, and her father was killed.


“A student a year younger than our son was wounded and his mother was killed. A student that the kids know from a different school was shot and severely wounded, and his mother and a sibling were unaccounted for as of the last time we received news.


“The mother of a girl on our son’s swim team was killed. There were quite a number of girls from our son’s grade that were in the mall for a surprise birthday party. Two of them were held hostage but somehow got out. None of the others were held or injured.”


This is one witness account of the 2013 Kenya Mall attacks that were committed by suspected Al-Shabab militants on unsuspecting civilians. Later, investigators described the mall attack scene. Their report read:


“The al-Shabab terrorists who seized a Kenyan shopping mall for four days tortured, maimed and mutilated some of their 67 victims, leaving a tattered scene of ghoulish, gruesome remains that investigators likened to scenes from a horror movie.


“Hostages were left hanging and had their eyes gouged, others were dismembered. Others had their throats slashed or were castrated and had fingers amputated, according to media reports quoting soldiers, medical personnel and investigators sorting through the rubble of the collapsed mall.”


These sad stories serve to remind us all of the priceless of piece of mind that we enjoy particularly in Zimbabwe and generally in our SADC region. While some people are of opinion that the placid persona of Southern Africans is the primary reason for our relative tranquility, I must reiterate that the SADC politics, defense and security framework to date has contributed to relative regional stability.


Someone may ask: what has SADC achieved in the areas of politics, defense and security in recent times? Here are some examples:


Democratic Republic of Congo


M23 rebel fighters (who were largely responsible for widespread war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) including summary executions, rapes, and the forced recruitment of children) were in 2013 successfully defeated by forces consisting of SADC troops.



In the words of Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister, Simbarashe Mbembegwi “the armed forces of the DRC assisted by the SADC Intervention Brigade were able to subdue the M23, the FDLR and the other negative forces in the region.”




Following the Madagascar coup, SADC intervened as a political mediator. The regional body suspended Madagascar’s membership, and explicitly supported ousted president Ravalomanana as the elected, constitutional head of state. The then executive secretary of SADC, Tomaz Salomão, called on Rajoelina to vacate the office of the president as a matter of urgency and this paved the way for the unconditional reinstatement of President Ravalomanana. Furthermore, SADC threatened sanctions and even discussed, albeit quietly, a potential military intervention by its standby brigade, SADCBRIG.


Ultimately, after mediation efforts to ensure constitutional order returned to Madagascar, the SADC suspension of Madagascar was lifted. International reports noted this as “a victory for the SADC’s much-maligned “quiet diplomacy”.


In 2008 Zimbabwe was submerged in a crisis characterized by economic meltdown, and disputed elections. Faced with internal instability and international isolation, it was SADC’s mediation in Zimbabwe that brought about the Global Political Agreement (GPA). The GPA returned the country to normalcy and gave birth to a new Zimbabwean constitution prior to the July 2013 elections.


Analysts have observed that “SADC’s involvement in Zimbabwe… [was] to support institutional and constitutional reform, prepare ground for credible elections and continue policing the political developments.” Arguably, SADC’s mediation mandate in Zimbabwe was achieved, and Zimbabwe was struck off the SADC crisis agenda in August 2013.


The aforementioned examples perhaps demonstrate the importance of SADC’s regional intervention in political and military matters. It is in the light of an increasingly worrying global trend of terrorism and radicalism on the part of extremist groups that are willing to use unjust, unconstitutional and violent means to achieve their ends that SADC state should seek to reaffirm their cooperation in terms of political interventionism and regional security.

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

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The Development Agenda


A homeless boy lies motionless next to a World Food Program Vehicle along Jason Moyo Ave in Harare (Picture Taken by Tau Tawengwa)
A homeless boy lies motionless next to a World Food Program Vehicle along Jason Moyo Ave in Harare (Picture Taken by Tau Tawengwa)

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals which are meant to be achieved by the target of 2015. These goals are: 1) to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 2) to achieve universal primary education 3) to promote gender equality and empower women   4) to reduce child mortality 5) to improve maternal health  6) to combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases 7) to ensure environmental sustainability and 8) to develop a global partnership for development.


Mr John W Ashe, the former ambassador to the United Nations for Antigua and Barbuda was elected to be the 68th President of the United Nations General Assembly in June 2013. In an editorial recently published in a Zimbabwean daily he states: “during my term as General Assembly President, the United Nations will embark on a process with the potential to guide the course of humankind for decades to come [by] defining parameters for the post-2015 Development Agenda.”


It must be observed that this a bold statement, especially when one considers that a 2011 World Bank report revealed that only four African countries are likely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015; specifically: Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Malawi. It therefore doesn’t make sense to start speaking about post-2015 developmental goals when most of the continent will fail to meet the targets at hand.


Now let’s look at Malawi for instance. While the aforementioned World Bank report notes that Malawi is one of the four African countries likely to meet the 2015 MDG targets, economists have also noted that between 2004 and 2011 Malawi received 5.3 billion dollars in foreign aid. Further, economists have also observed that Ethiopia experienced a real GDP average of 11.2 % per annum during the 2003/04 and 2008/09 periods. That said, a 2009 study by the Brookings institute reveals that “foreign aid has played a major role in Ethiopia’s development effort…it has been instrumental in bridging the country’s savings-investment and foreign exchange gaps.”


Coming back home, the UNDP Country program document for Zimbabwe (2012-2015) reports that since 2009 Zimbabwe has made “significant progress on a number of MDGs such as MDG 6 on combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases and MDG 2 on achieving universal primary education. The primary school net enrollment ratio (NER) was 91% in 2009 with the girls’ ratio going up to 50,5%. Although the NER is still high, it is worth noting that the ratio has declined from 98.5% in 2002.”


Now in 2002, world powers including the European Union (EU) imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe which included the cutting off of 128 million Euros in developmental aid to Zimbabwe. While current reports that restrictions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) will be removed when EU foreign ministers meet next month are welcome, it can still be argued that the MDGs and any other post-2015 developmental goals are impossible to achieve without assistance in the form of aid. We need that aid.


It is often argued that aid is dependent upon good socio-economic governance. This is noted. However, consider this 2007 Reserve bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) report on sanctions; it reads “the scaling down of donor support and developmental assistance grant inflows declined significantly from an annual average of US$138 million in the 1990s to US$39.9 million registered between 2000 and 2006.” Compared to the aid inflows into Ethiopia and Malawi, that amount is a drop in the ocean.


It is therefore important for the world to acknowledge the socio-economic and political developments made in Zimbabwe during the lifespan of the Global Political Agreement, as well as the peaceful environment surrounding the 2013 SADC and AU endorsed harmonized elections. Ultimately, without significant developmental aid channeled through government, the achievement of the MDGs is a very long shot for Zimbabwe.


Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

Elections and Security Sector Reform in Zimbabwe


According to the principles of Security Sector Reform as set out in the United Nation’s Secretary General’s 2008 report entitled “Securing Peace and Development: The Role of the United Nations in Support of Security Sector Reform,” Security Sector Reform (SSR) is described as “a process of assessment, review and implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation of the security sector led by national authorities.” In the same report, the Security Sector is defined as “the structures, institutions and personnel responsible for the management, provision and oversight of security in a country.” The report also states that the goal of SSR is “the enhancement of effective and accountable security for the state and its peoples without discrimination and with full respect of human rights and the rule of law.”

Zimbabwe’s top securocrats have recently rejected the notion of SSR in the country, arguing that it fortifies a western-led anti-ZANU-PF regime change agenda. This has consequently ruffled the political feathers of pro-SSR parties in the country who are demanding that reforms are enacted before elections can take place.

It should be observed that when it comes to security sector related issues the world is full of contradictions. In fact, while it is acknowledged that SSR is intended to promote “human rights and the rule of law,” it also controversially argued that so-called non-democratic regimes such as Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tunisa are most urgently in need of SSR. This is a misconception.

Instead of attempting to delve into the debate of SSR in Zimbabwe, I deem it a priority to argue that on the contemporary global arena, no single nation-state has the moral high ground when it comes to the relationship between the security sector, human rights and the rule of law.

For instance, Professor Christof Heyns, the U.N. special rapporteur on executions recently stated that robotic weapons systems with varying degrees of autonomy and deadliness are being tested or used by the United States and Britain (countries often perceived to be at the forefront of the human rights discourse) without debate on moral and legal issues. These weapons, commonly known as ‘drones’ are believed to have killed more civilians than militants in Pakistan and Yemen. Furthermore, the controversy surrounding Guantanamo bay, as well as the recent furore ignited by CIA employee Edward Snowden’s leaks of state secrets all point towards the furtive and duplicitous nature of security establishments even in the so-called open societies of the world.

Elsewhere, Turkish security forces have recently cracked down on thousands of anti-government supporters in Taksim Square, resulting in four deaths and thousands of injuries. This is the same Turkey that is currently holding almost 100 journalists in police custody according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, yet also the same Turkey that not long ago had anything but vitriol for the Syrian government’s crackdown on ‘rebels.’ As I write this there is no mention of security sector reform in Turkey.

The irony resonates in the SADC facilitator’s tendency to call for security sector reforms in Zimbabwe before elections. Yet, when Jacob Zuma was asked to answer for the recent surreptitious involvement of South African troops in the Central African Republic, he responded: “The problem in South Africa is that everybody wants to run the country… there must also be an appreciation that military matters and decisions are not matters that are discussed in public.” No need to mention Marikana.

Back in Harare, The MDC-T is calling for security sector reforms before elections can be held this year. Yet, recently MDC-T security guards allegedly assaulted Zimbabwe Independent journalist Herbert Moyo and barred him from covering a demonstration at the MDC-T Harvest House headquarters. No mention of reforms there. Now what can I conclude of all this? Nothing, except that all is fair in love and war.

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director