New breed of SADC lead­ers take charge

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - PETA THORNYCROFT AND ANA

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)

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