SADC Says No to Commonwealth

Mopheme News: "SADC says 'NO' to Commonwealth"
Mugabe pulls out of the C/wealth
By Thabo Thakalekoala

Relations between the Commonwealth big brothers and their SADC counterparts within the organisation could sour following the recent withdrawal by Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.

Mugabe has called on SADC to follow him and cut its relations with the Commonwealth following reports of the SADC leaders rallying in full house behind him.

The decision by the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations to uphold the suspension of Zimbabwe from all its councils taken at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria saw Zimbabwe pulling out of the body and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries throwing their support behind Robert Mugabe and disagreeing with the decision to continue Zimbabwe's suspension.

The Prime Minister of Lesotho, Pakalitha Mosisili who is also the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation issued a statement on behalf of SADC member countries shortly after the decision to uphold the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth was announced.

"We, the SADC members of the Commonwealth supported by some members of the Commonwealth, wish to voice our strong disagreement with the decision not to allow Zimbabwe back into the councils of the Commonwealth as reflected in the Abuja CHOGM statement on Zimbabwe," said the statement.

Mosisili said SADC was concerned that the matter of Zimbabwe's participation in the 54-member club was prejudged, considering the pronouncements made by some member countries prior to the finalization of the matter.

"The decision will do nothing to assist the people of Zimbabwe overcome their present difficulties. As we warned, it has resulted in Zimbabwe withdrawing from the Commonwealth," he added.

Prime Minister Mosisili said the present situation in Zimbabwe called for engagement by the Commonwealth and not isolation and further punishment, and reaffirmed SADC's determination to continue to assist the people of Zimbabwe.

"We also wish to express our displeasure and deep concern with the dismissive, intolerant and rigid attitude displayed by some members of the Commonwealth during the deliberations. The Commonwealth has always operated on the basis of consensus. We fear that this attitude is destined to undermine the spirit that makes the Commonwealth a unique family of nations. This development does not augur well for the future of the Commonwealth," Mosisili concluded.

Announcing his decision to pull Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth, Mugabe said: "Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans. If the choice was for us to leave the Commonwealth, or be a member of the Commonwealth, let the Commonwealth go. It is just a club, and there are many other clubs we can join."