OPPOSITION Mavambo-Kusile leader, Simba Makoni, has castigated President Robert Mugabe and his government for imprinting partisan Zanu PF values on the theme of the forthcoming Sadc summit to be hosted by Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe plays host to over 450 delegates, among them leaders of the 14 Sadc member states who are set to converge in the resort town of Victoria Falls for the August 17-18 event.
Briefing journalists on preparations around the high profile conference two weeks ago, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said this year's Sadc theme was influenced by Zimbabwe.
"... This time we have selected a theme on the "Sadc Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region's Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition," Mumbengegwi said.
"This theme has been selected very, very carefully because Zimbabwe believes very strongly in the importance of beneficiating and value adding of our natural resources.
"I think you have all heard how President R. G. Mugabe has never stopped talking about this issue. Why should we always export our natural resources in their raw form?"
Makoni, who is a former Sadc executive secretary said in an exclusive interview with NewZimbabwe.com the theme had all the fingerprints of Zanu PF.
"The coining of a theme for this summit as l know the workings of Sadc, not just when l was there but even long after l was there, Sadc has a regional indicative strategic development programme; during my time we used to call it the programme of action," said Makoni, who headed the Sadc secretariat for 10 years until 1994.
He continued: "The themes of our actions were not determined by the incoming chairman and their year in office, there were time themes that drew from a broad strategy of the organisation.
"I don't even believe that this theme we are giving to this summit is the consensual theme of the collective; this is a unilateral decision, because we have a particular message we want to convey particularly to the international community and our regional peers that the battlefront is on natural resources, is on resource sovereignty, is on resource nationalism.
"l would challenge, l have not been in there, that there was a resolution of the council of ministers or the heads of states which said Sadc is now going to drive resource nationalism as its main platform.
"If you become parochial around Zim-sensitivities and Zim-idiosyncrasies you would think there is a lot of significance."
Makoni also scoffed at attempts by Zanu PF apologists to portray Mugabe's impending chairmanship of the bloc as an honour being bestowed on the veteran leader.
"President Mugabe and his government are wanting to portray this chairmanship as a recognition and acceptance not only of Zimbabwe and President Mugabe but of the July 2013 elections, all those messages that they are putting out are not really around the rotating chairmanship of SADC, it's not part of the institutionality of Sadc chairmanship."
Mugabe and his party posted an emphatic two thirds victory in last year's elections which was later endorsed by Sadc observers although dismissed by Western countries.