The SADC Troika consists of Zambia (the chairperson), Tanzania (the deputy chairperson, and Namibia (the immediate past chairperson).
The leaders of Tanzania and Namibia have both congratulated President Mnangagwa on his re-election. President Cyril Ramaphosa has done the same. But Mr Hakainde Hichilema is yet to do so because the candidate he reportedly supported lost the election.
The man he unilaterally chose, Mr Nevers Mumba, to represent him in Zimbabwe’s election released a discredited and biased preliminary report that is likely to be thrown out at the next SADC meeting because both Mr Hichilema and Mr Mumba could not declare interest.
Why did Mr Hichilema, in his capacity as incoming chair of the Troika, appoint Mr Nevers Mumba to head the SADC Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM), given his known and close ties to both Mr Nelson Chamisa, one of the presidential candidates in the just ended Zimbabwean election, and to Hichilema, who himself is very close to the CCC leader?
I use the term “incoming” deliberately because Mr Hichilema, at the time he announced the appointment of Mr Mumba on 14 August 2023, was not yet chairperson of the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security. The President of Namibia was still the chairperson at the time. https://twitter.com/HHichilema/status/1691184702235836416?s=20 Mr Hichilema only formally assumed the leadership of the Organ three days later, on 17 August 2023, at the 43rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Luanda, Angola. https://www.sadc.int/latest-news/sadc-hold-43rd-summit-luanda-republic-angola-17-august-2023
Although the ultra-urgency that Mr Hichilema demonstrated when appointing Mr Mumba is in itself curious, what is most striking and raises questions about his judgement was the choice of a person whose impartiality was always going to be questioned to lead the Mission. Why not appoint someone who won’t give ZANU-PF reason to discredit the Mission’s findings – however legitimate they may be?
What criteria was used to appoint Mr Mumba? If it was because of his role as former vice-president of Zambia, what disqualified the several other ex-veeps of Zambia who are still alive? If it was because of his role as opposition MMD president, what disqualified the several other leaders of opposition parties in Zambia?
Why did Mr Hichilema choose Mr Nevers Mumba to lead the SEOM to Zimbabwe? What particular individual qualities did Mr Mumba have that other former vice-presidents and opposition leaders in Zambia lacked? Was Mr Mumba really the best candidate for such a sensitive role that requires utmost levels of impartiality and maturity? Had Mr Hichilema exercised caution in his choice of the person he appointed to lead the Mission and understood that the credibility of its report rests on the credibility of its membership, the apparent or emerging divisions within the Troika – and potentially within the SADC itself – may have have been avoided.
But that is how betrayal is; hypocrisy, treachery and ignorance can be a very big a problem but they all have limits to their power and influence. What Mr Hichilema forgot was that he could only masquerade or present his fake image to the region and the world for a short period before shame visited him.
Clearly, hiding his true identity as an imperialist puppet has lamentably failed. We hope he has learnt something from this mistake.
President of the Socialist Party [Zambia]