Namibian opposition leader Bernadus Swartbooi said that President Emmerson Mnangagwa is a “puppet of the Zimbabwean military” as he came to power on the back of the November 2017 military coup.

Addressing a media conference in his country, Swartbooi, who is the leader of the Landless People’s Movement, slammed SADC and the AU for failing to condemn the 2017 military coup in Zimbabwe that ousted Robert Mugabe.

Swartbooi also criticised SADC leaders who congratulated Mnangagwa on his re-election last month despite the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) and other election observers raising questions on the credibility of the polls. He said:

"There was a clear military coup in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was not suspended from SADC or from the AU for a coup that was committed; they went scot-free and the military put its puppet, ED Mnangagwa as president.

But it was a clear coup… no suspension from SADC, no condemnation, no suspension from AU, nothing.

Again Zimbabwe got what it wanted, and got away with what it was doing."

Swartbooi also cited several cases in which SADC allegedly bent its own rules in order to accommodate ZANU PF’s excesses.

He used the case of a white Zimbabwean commercial farmer who had successfully appealed a Zimbabwean Supreme Court ruling that sought to legalise the compulsory acquisition of white-owned farms without compensation, to prove his point.

The now-defunct SADC Tribunal, which was based in Windhoek, Namibia, ruled in favour of the Zimbabwean farmer and the Zimbabwean government pushed SADC to disband the Tribunal. Said Swartbooi:

"The question we are asking is what is so special about ZANU PF that it can break every law in Zimbabwe, it can break every sense of what we understood to be a semblance of democracy and not even a word of concern about violence preceding, during and post-election and not even a word of concern is expressed by our leaders."

He suggested that SADC has taken its loyalty to ZANU PF too far at the expense of the democratisation of member-states. Said Swartbooi:

"SADC now literally goes into self-masturbation; how do you send your own trusted institution and this time you discredit yourselves, you mutilate yourselves for the sake of ZANU PF?

What do we as SADC owe ZANU PF … what have they done uniquely for South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Zambia, and Tanzania, to deserve this type of utmost loyalty even at our own expense? Where do we now go and do we mutilate SADC’s mission?"

Other opposition parties in the region, notably BOSA and EFF in South Africa have also condemned ZANU PF for allegedly suppressing dissenting voices at home.

- Pindula