New breed of SADC leaders take charge
FOR the first time since the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was launched in 1980, none of the member states’ founding fathers were at its summit, which opened in Windhoek yesterday.
The last two SADC founding members to leave office were Angola’s Eduardo dos Santos who retired last year and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, obliged to quit after a soft coup d’etat last November.
Dos Santos, who was in power for nearly four decades and in ill health, made way for his successor, former defence minister Joao Lourenco.
Since his departure, his two older children Isabel, regularly named as Africa’s richest woman, and son Jose Filomeno dos Santos, nicknamed “Zenu”, were both forced to quit various Angolan organisations they headed during their father’s stay in power.
Both were regularly accused of corruption by some NGOs.
Mugabe’s wife and former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe, and their three children, have also been accused of living lavish lifestyles at the expense of taxpayers.
It is said Grace Mugabe has taken more (previously) whiteowned farms than any other person in Zimbabwe, presides over Zimbabwe’s largest and richest mansion and has had unexplained spending patterns, mostly in Asia. She allegedly also purchased a R45 million property in Joburg’s affluent Sandhurst suburb a year ago.
The couple’s two sons, Robert jr and Chatunga Bellarmine, spent much money in public nightclubs in South Africa last year.
While living in Sandton, they became the talk of the town after destroying a luxury flat during a drunken brawl.
Grace’s oldest son from her first marriage, Russell Goreraza, was filmed driving a Rolls Royce, bought in Joburg. He has no known job. Mugabe’s unemployed daughter Bona and son-in-law, Simba Chikore, are building a vast million-dollar mansion in Harare.
Chikore has no formal job, but was involved in informally spending millions of state cash on four aircraft from Malaysian Airways for a new airline in Zimbabwe which is yet to operate.
Before last month’s elections, Mugabe told journalists at his vast three-storey Chinese-styled mansion that he didn’t have enough cash to fix the roof.
When he moved there post-2002, he couldn’t explain where he found the money to build it.
He, alongside his wife and their dairy in Mazowe, about 40km west of Harare, are being sued by several alleged creditors for unpaid bills and Grace allegedly owes more than R1m to Harare lawyers in connection with a diamond ring she acquired in Dubai.
Mugabe was replaced as head of state by Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Now, the Zimbabwean presidential seat at this week’s summit will have a new face and name in in that of Mnangagwa. His victory is being challenged by Nelson Chamisa, president of the opposition MDC Alliance. The chairmanship of SADC passes from South Africa to Namibia at the summit.
President of Namibia, Hage Geingob, opened the two-day summit, which is being attended by 16 heads of state and government.
The summit is responsible for the overall policy direction and control of functions of the community, ultimately making it the policy-making institution of SADC. – Additional reporting: African News Agency (ANA)