Leaders attending the annual Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in the Malawi capital, Lilongwe, Sunday called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
In a communiqué at the end of the summit, the leaders said they were satisfied with the recent Zimbabwe elections which returned veteran leader Robert Mugabe to power, describing them as ‘free and peaceful’. They therefore called for the lifting of all forms of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
In her closing remarks, in-coming SADC chairperson Joyce Banda also called for the lifting of the sanctions, saying ‘the people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough.’
‘SADC calls upon the international community to review their position on sanctions following progress being made in Zimbabwe,’ she said. ‘I totally believe that Zimbabweans deserve better and Zimbabweans have suffered enough.’
Banda said the September 2008 global political agreement which saw opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai assuming the compromise role of Prime Minister was bearing fruits.
‘I wish to urge all stake-holders in Zimbabwe to continue to work together to move the country forward,’ she said.
The summit also discussed the political developments in Madagascar, where Andry Rajoelina, who took over power by force, withdrew from the forthcoming elections alongside former First Lady Lalao Ravolomanana and former president Didier Ratsiraka and six others.
‘This is good news for the SADC region. This vindicates that the long and painful efforts of SADC through its mediator, the former president of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano, are paying dividends,’ Banda said.
But the summit expressed concern with what it called the ‘deteriorating security and humanitarian situation’ in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the worsening situation in Egypt and called for the return of constitutional order in the troubled North African country.
‘Summit deplored the loss of human lives and the destruction of property,’ reads the communiqué. ‘It called on all parties involved to exercise maximum restraint and begin the process of dialogue and reconciliation and to urgently work towards the return of constitutional normalcy.’
Apart from the dominant politics, the summit also discussed the worsening food situation in the region, economic integration and HIV/AIDS.
It announced the departure of its executive Secretary, Dr. Tomas Augusto Salamao, who has been at the helms for eight years.
The veteran Mozambican politician-cum-technocrat has been replaced by Dr. Stegomerna Lawrence Tax, a Tanzanian national who becomes the first woman to head the 14-member economic bloc.
The next SADC summit will be hosted by Zimbabwe in August next year.