UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says the current political situation in Zimbabwe is a wake-up call for SADC which he said has not been proactive in dealing with human rights issues in member countries.
Mr Hichilema said the SADC has adopted a laissez-faire attitude when handling issues of poor governance.
He was speaking to journalists at the Supreme Court grounds today after attending a Constitutional Court hearing in Margaret Mwanakatwe’s appeal against the nullification of her Lusaka Central parliamentary seat which Charlotte Scott had successfully petitioned.
“This is a wakeup call to SADC which has taken a laissez-faire attitude in pro actively dealing with concerns of citizens of our region. The Economic Community for West African States is doing much better in this area, ECOWAS is more proactive and it takes interest in cases to do with abuse of human rights, liberties and freedoms. It takes interest in the breakdown of the rule of law, we have seen ECOWAS take steps in Gambia, in Côte d’Ivoire, in Burkina Faso and indeed in Mali pro-actively which SADC has to done and SADC clears now has been behaving in a manner we can describe as an attitude of ‘scratch my back and I scratch yours’, ignore the rule of law in your neighbouring country which is a SADC member and say nothing about my country when I break the rule of law,” Mr Hichilema said.
Mr Hichilema condemned SADC for waiting until people’s lives were at risk before taking the matter seriously.
Mr Hichilema said the unfolding events in that country affects everyone because when Zimbabwe’s social, economic and political status is in limbo, even Zambia’s gets affected.
The UPND leader has therefore called for an urgent amicable solution which places and prioritises the interest of Zimbabweans.
Mr Hichilema said this is a lesson to bodies like Southern African Development Community (SADC) which always only waits for situations to escalate and later begin issuing statements either for their own interest or whoever is holding onto power and not the citizens.
“We stand with our brothers in Zimbabwe and pray for calm and that such situations can always be avoided when people’s cries are listened to on time. This is why in country’s situation we are saying only the dialogue process will help us restore the rule of law and establish strong independent institutions that will without political influence adjudicate matters in a just manner,” Mr Hichilema said.
He added, “And today, SADC through the current Head of SADC Jacob Zuma is saying ‘SADC is watching keenly’ but what are they watching keenly?’ Because Zimbabwe has been degenerating for the last 10 to 15 years and now Zimbabweans are at the risk of losing life and property and becoming refugees in bigger numbers yet again when SADC has been basically sitting and having meetings like nothing is going on wrong in our countries,” he said.
Mr. Hichilema predicted that there would be an inflow of Zimbabweans refugees into Zambia following the power crisis.
“We wish the people of Zimbabwe the best, we wish them safety and calmness within stormy waters to probably help lead into a situation that Zimbabweans have been expecting for too long and it’s not been coming, and that is to allow for observance of the rule of law,” he said.
“To allow for Zimbabweans to enjoy human rights, liberties and freedoms which they have not been enjoying for a long time and that will lead to peace and stability that will allow for free, fair and credible elections so that leaders that care for the people of Zimbabwe are put in place and then Zimbabweans don’t have to migrate to neighbouring countries and you know Zambia has been home for a lot of Zimbabweans and this situation may be exacerbated now by the current situation in Zimbabwe,” he said.