President Mugabe Assumes Top SADC Post

ZIMBABWE scored a major diplomatic victory yesterday after President Mugabe was elected Sadc deputy chairperson, deputising Malawian President Mrs Joyce Banda who chairs the regional bloc. This is contained in a communiqué released after the Sadc 33rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government Summit in Lilongwe, Malawi, yesterday.

"The Summit elected Her Excellence Joyce Banda (the President) of the Republic of Malawi and His Excellence Robert Gabriel Mugabe President of the Republic of Zimbabwe as chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of Sadc respectively," reads part of the communiqué.

This is a major diplomatic victory for a country that has been the subject of discussion for Sadc for almost a decade to immediately assume such a task barely two weeks after successfully holding its free, fair and credible elections.

This means President Mugabe will become the next chairperson of the regional grouping next year after Malawi completes her one-year term and Harare will host the bloc's Heads of State and Government.

The development is a clear sign yet that regional leaders accept results of the July 31 elections and are confident of Zimbabwe's political future.

Analysts also contend that this effectively means regional leaders deem Zimbabwe's political issue to be a closed chapter.

Zimbabwe had been subjected to mediation of South African President Jacob Zuma over the past four years following a political crisis that resulted in the creation of a three party coalition government whose mandate expired on July 31 when the country successfully held its elections.

Reads the communiqué in part; "On Zimbabwe, the Summit noted with satisfaction the holding of free and peaceful harmonised elections on July 31 2013. The Summit commended the Government and people of Zimbabwe for the peaceful manner in which the elections were conducted. The summit congratulated the Zanu-PF party and President Robert Gabriel Mugabe for winning the harmonised elections. The Summit reiterated its call for the lifting of all forms of sanctions hitherto imposed on Zimbabwe."

Diplomatic sources said regional leaders had been impressed with the way Zimbabwe had managed to worm her way out of political and economic troubles.

The source said President Mugabe explained to the leaders, in a closed-door meeting, all processes and steps that the country had taken since 2009 when the Inclusive Government was formed.

The source said regional leaders congratulated President Mugabe on his emphatic victory and hailed Zimbabweans for the manner they conducted themselves in the elections.

"The leaders also thanked President Zuma for his mediation efforts in Zimbabwe.

"The leaders have quoted the Zimbabwean issue as one of the successes of Sadc," said the source.

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba took over as chairperson of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security from Tanzanian leader Jakaya Kikwete.

Stergomena Lawrence Tax from Tanzania is the new executive secretary, taking over from Tomaz Salamao.