JACOB Zuma last weekend called for a political solution to the current three-month crisis in Madagascar.
The South African president said there should be an “inclusive political dialogue” in the search for a solution to the crisis in Madagascar.
Zuma made the remarks as he addressed an extra-ordinary summit of Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state and government in Johannesburg last Saturday.
Zuma said the solution to the crisis in Madagascar lay in the “constitutional and democratic principles enshrined in the SADC Treaty and the African Union Constitutive Act”.
He also mentioned the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
The SADC chairman urged political leaders to use their collective wisdom to “find fair, just and equitable and inclusive solutions” to ensure political stability in the region.
What exactly did Mr Zuma mean?
It is well known that Madagascar’s president, Marc Ravalomanana, was unconstitutionally removed from power on March 17.
Former opposition leader, Andry Rajoelina, took over the reins with explicit backing of his country’s military.
Ravalomanana fled Madagascar in March and is currently living in exile in South Africa.
In effect what we saw in March was a coup d’etat against an elected president.
SADC and the AU have in the past said they would not allow unconstitutional change of governments on the African continent.
We were therefore disappointed when the AU and SADC failed to act to restore the deposed president.
The response by SADC in particular was disappointing. The regional body only managed to issue a communiqué condemning events in the Indian Ocean Island.
They also threatened to impose sanctions against the new regime in Madagascar. The response was woefully weak and ineffective.
This is the reason why we were disappointed once again last weekend when Zuma as the chairman of SADC made the latest call for “inclusive solutions” regarding Madagascar.
The call fell far short of what needs to be done at this critical juncture in Africa’s political development.
We remain at a loss as to the meaning of the regional body’s call for “inclusive solutions.”
If the “inclusive solution” is a Zimbabwe-type government of national unity then we will not hesitate to condemn such a call in toto.
We have never been comfortable with African leaders’ handling of issues regarding dictators who have lost elections or usurped power illegally.
The new experiments – of governments of national unity – have proved disappointing so far. Look at Kenya and Zimbabwe.
By all accounts Raila Odinga won the Kenya elections in December 2007.
The incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, refused to concede defeat triggering fierce clashes that left over a thousand Kenyans dead.
In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe lost the elections in March. He only retained the presidency after he unleashed an orgy of violence against his own people.
In September last year, SADC under the leadership of Thabo Mbeki came up with an “inclusive solution” that saw Morgan Tsvangirai appointed prime minister in a government of national unity.
We have problems with such an approach. The rules are fairly simple and straight-forward.
One cannot assume power through undemocratic or unconstitutional means. It is therefore wrong for regional bodies to strike deals to accommodate political miscreants.
In the case of Madagascar it is as clear as daylight that Rajoelina, a 34-year-old former disc journey, got into power through unconstitutional means.
The man did not win any election in Madagascar. Under the SADC and AU rules Rajoelina usurped political power.
It would therefore be a travesty of justice if Zuma and his fellow leaders try to come up with yet another power-sharing deal for Madagascar to accommodate Rajoelina.
But we can understand why SADC has not found the balls to confront Rajoelina.
It is Robert Mugabe.
Both Mugabe and Rajoelina are birds of a feather.
As long as there are individuals who have been allowed to retain power after clearly losing elections SADC will not have the moral authority to question usurpers of power such as Rajoelina.