*THE REGIONAL SUMMIT THAT NEVER WAS *
SSN –STATEMENT : September 19th, 2016
It has been three weeks since the 36th SADC meeting of heads of states took
place in Swaziland where the reigns of the Chairmanship were handed to the
despotic King Mswati. After the fanfare and cacophony surrounding the
event, the citizens of the region are left with no more hope or clarity of
purpose than before that extravagant affair.
It was clear from the onset that Mswati would use the summit to show off
his opulence to his friends. Accordingly he unveiled an E300 million
personal auditorium built at his main palace in Lozitha. This posh building
had been under construction for over a year. His fellow heads of state were
left impressed enough to hang around for after meeting festivities, as
indicated by photographs circulated after the event.
Yet apart from the clichés on the need to develop the region, the summit
did not live up to its hype. There was no resolution that came out of it
that pointed to a region on whose leaders are in touch with the reality on
The state of human rights and lack of democracy in Zimbabwe and Swaziland
stuck out as two important issues that were swept under the rug. While the
summit was in progress, opposition parties and civic groups were clashing
with police in the streets of Harare demanding electoral reforms. In
Mozambique the political climate has deteriorated to one reminiscent of the
eighties, while in the Democratic Republic of Congo the political situation
threatens to return to a war.
Despite all these threats to the security of the region, the regional heads
of state did not resolve on an enduring strategy to find a solution to the
root causes of instability, which include lack of access to political
space, economic participation and basic human rights.
*A DESPOT IN THE CHAIRMANSHIP*
The fact that king Mswati’s record of human rights abuses was totally
ignored when the regional chairmanship was handed to him points out that
the SADC as a regional body does not value democracy and the humane
treatment of its citizens and it indicates just how far removed its rulers
are from the people they rule.
Prior to the summit, civic organizations and opposition parties in SADC
countries voiced out their concerns at Mswati being made the chairperson
of the regional body. They correctly pointed out the fact that this step
did not bode well for democracy in the region and that it was ironic that a
despot would be expected to lead the regional body whose members all have
accepted political plurality as a method of governance.
The least that the regional body could have done to deal with this irony
would have been to pass the chairmanship to another country in order to
allow Swaziland time to sort out its political short-comings.
*CONSOLIDATION OF POWER*
Once a proud organization which helped to liberate the people of South
Africa from the evil Apartheid regime, the regional body has shifted from a
position of leading the fight against human rights abuses and instead
become an instrument for preserving political power for Southern Africa’s
This in itself is a result of the calibre of leadership that the region
currently has. Even those leaders who owe their positions largely to the
role that they played in liberating their countries from white minority
rule have since forsaken their once proud activism and joined in turning a
blind eye at the suffering of fellow Africans. We therefore call upon the
citizens of all Southern African countries to lobby their leaders to change
the direction and guiding values of the organization from one that merely
consolidates power for its current rulers to one that fosters continuous
progress and democratisation.
Issued by the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN] South African chapter
Lucky Lukhele- Spokesperson
072 502 4141
*Lucky Lukhele- *
*Tell:011 339 3621*
*Mobile: 072 502 4141*
*Email: lucky.lukh...@gmail.com <lucky.lukh...@gmail.com> *
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