WINDHOEK - The SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation has condemned the killing of six people in Harare, Zimbabwe, as soldiers and police fought running battles with hundreds of opposition supporters disputing victory of the ruling ZANU PF party and its presidential candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The army was deployed in the capital on August 1, after police proved unable to quell demonstrators who claim Zimbabwe’s historic election was rigged.
ZANU PF, which has been in power since the southern African country gained independence in 1980, won 145 seats in the 210-seat parliament.
The Director of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation Jorge Cardoso yesterday during a media briefing in Windhoek, ahead of the meeting of Council of Ministers to be held today, condemned the violence.
“We condemn the loss of lives which took place after elections. We are hopeful that the authorities will investigate why there was loss of lives on August 1,” Cardoso noted.
President Mnangagwa had already vowed that he would, once sworn in, commission a full inquiry into the deaths.
SADC yesterday rejected the label of a “toothless bulldog”, saying it has protocol in place to tackle any instability in the region.
Cardoso said SADC has a mandate to intervene in regional conflicts only once its member states fail to handle the situation themselves.
“I don’t think like that [that SADC is toothless]. We don’t replace institutions in our member states. We have to work with them. There are processes we need to follow. Sometimes the measures we put in place don’t have immediate desired outcomes,” he maintained.
In addition, he reported that the organ observers have observed that until August 1 before the violence erupted, the Zimbabwe electoral process as peaceful.
He added the campaign period was declared free, as there was freedom of participation.
He was quick to say the organ is yet to release its final report after a 90-day period from the election day.
Although SADC is generally characterised as peaceful, there are threats of terrorism that require resources by member states to tackle such occurrences.
He cited terrorism threats in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique.
Cardoso also raised concern over SADC member states who are still reluctant to remove visa requirements in their countries for the free movement of people and goods by other member states.
SADC has a Protocol on facilitation of movement of persons, which is founded on the SADC Treaty that advocates for the promotion of interdependence and integration of national economies for the harmonious, balanced and equitable development of the region.
Zimbabwe has become the first SADC country to remove visa requirements for all member countries. In February, the government introduced a new visa regime where 29 countries have been moved from Group C to Group B. Group B countries get visas on arrival and do not need to apply before travelling. Some of the countries which are now in Group B are Ethiopia, India, Mexico.
The Zimbabwean government made the move to improve travel into the country for tourists and businesspeople.
Although SADC has in place protocols on tourism, travel and the facilitation of the movement of people, amongst others, there are still entry visa requirements between at least three SADC member states and the other 12 mainly because of the pace at which they are concluding the bilateral agreements.
Namibia allows citizens of specific countries and territories to travel to Namibia for tourism or business purposes for three months with an ordinary passport, and diplomatic and service passports without having to obtain a visa. All visitors must hold a passport valid for six months.
Namibia will soon start issuing African passport holders with visas on arrival at ports of entry as a first step towards the eventual abolition of all visa requirements for all Africans.