(By Christopher Miti in Dar es Salaam)
TANZANIAN President John Magufuli will today assume the Southern Africa Development Community chairmanship that his predecessor Benjamin Mkapa held 16 years ago.
And President Edgar Lungu is expected to hand over the chairmanship of SADC’s defence and security to his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa.
But All People’s Congress president Nason Msoni says President Lungu’s tenure as SADC organ on politics, defence and security has been disastrous and a missed opportunity.
Namibian President Hage Geingob assumed the chairmanship of SADC last year when his country hosted the region’s Heads of State and government summit.
According to a statement released by President Geingob office, the outgoing chairperson was pleased that during his tenure, the regional body took significant steps towards the attainment of the objectives of development and enhancing the quality
of life of citizens in the region.
The statement documented the successful peaceful elections held in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Madagascar including President Geingob witnessing the signing of the Maputo Peace Accord, as some of the pinnacles of his tenure as chairperson.
“I can attest that it was not an easy undertaking to ensure that the elections in the DRC were finally held and conducted in a peaceful environment,” said President Geingob.
Meanwhile, President Lungu will today hand over the chairmanship for defence and security to President Mnangagwa.
The summit which is taking place at Julius Nyerere International Conference Centre is being held under the theme ‘Conducive Environment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, Increased Intra-regional Trade and Job Creation’.
Msoni said President Lungu should have considered delegating the responsibility of handing over the he chairmanship of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security his foreign minister or any of his cabinet colleagues to help him save face from his regional peers.
“We think that under his chairmanship of the SADC organ, the region has experienced unprecedented levels of political instability and challenges. And we think that he got it wrong everywhere; in Zimbabwe itself, in Congo DRC. He has hardly made his position clear as regards instability in Malawi,” Msoni said.
“Now his tenure as chairman without doubt has been disastrous and a clear missed opportunity for him to demonstrate political acumen and statesmanship. It is our considered view that he is still a rookie politically have been handfed down such an important crucial role.”
Msoni said it was expected hat President Lungu was not going to succeed in that assignment.
He said the indisputable declining standards and levels of leadership credentials in SADC region was worrying.
“Now the intended handing over of the chairmanship to Zimbabwe, which is already in turmoil is yet another serious case of poor judgment and it would be an indictment on the regional grouping itself to handover the chairmanship of defence and politics to Zimbabwe,” he said.
He said the raging political instability in Zimbabwe was very familiar and was far from being over following the poor handling of the last elections.
“Clearly, we think that and neutral, credible arbitrator is still required in Zimbabwe following the perennial stalemates…Zimbabwe as the expected new chair for defence, politics and security cannot reasonably be expected arbitrate in its own backyard in such political matters neither can it be expected arbitrate in any member state on moral ground. Now in a nutshell, Zimbabwe would do the regional grouping a favour by accepting to pass over the chairmanship to another member state enjoying relative political stability,” he said. “It will be an act of political redundancy for Zimbabwe in its current situation to assume the chairmanship of politics, defence and security. It is correct to assert that it is like jumping out from a frying pan into the fire itself.”
Msoni said the lack of qualitative leadership need the regional grouping needs upping up to salvage the sinking sub-regional grouping’s capacity to deal with challenges.
He said the choice and quality of the SADC grouping lies in the quality of leaders elected to office of President.
“When you have poor leaders, the ultimate result is that we have a poor show of leadership in the SADC grouping,”said Msoni.