Southern Africa: SADC Summit Dodges Discussing Big Issues in Public

The SADC's Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government is to be held on August 17, 2020.

Even relative to the usual SADC silence on regional controversies, this summit was a bland non-event, not only publicly but apparently even privately.

Important regional decisions ought to have been made at the 40th ordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Monday. Like whether to send a SADC force into Mozambique to help that country fight and contain a jihadist insurgency in the north. And how to stop the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe from unravelling and spilling over into the region.

The SADC is not good at making big decisions at the best of times. And holding the organisation's first virtual summit under Covid-19 conditions was not the best of times. Diplomatic sources told Daily Maverick that the governments of the 16 member states had decided beforehand not to discuss sensitive issues - like Mozambique and Zimbabwe - remotely for fear of security breaches.

But even within those severe constraints it was an unilluminating gathering. As usual with such summits, even before Covid-19, most of it took place in camera. Or perhaps, one should say in these strange times, off-camera. But the opening and closing ceremonies were supposed to be open. Yet the transmission was...

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