Lilongwe: The Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit, which wrapped up in Malawi on Sunday, managed to register a few political victories for the regional body.
For the first time, the summit ushered in two women at the top – Malawian President Joyce Banda as chairperson and Stergomena Lawrence Tax of Tanzania as executive secretary. Tax, who was elected during the Heads of State and Government summit here, takes over from Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomão, who served two terms of eight years.
Banda will be at the helm until the next summit in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe will take over as the chairperson.
SADC leaders also managed to celebrate a victory in Madagascar after an Electoral Court there successfully barred the incumbent president, Andry Rajoelina, and the wife of a long-standing rival Lalao Ravalomanana in the next presidential election. The court also struck former president Didier Ratsiraka from the list of candidates. SADC has consistently tried to persuade the trio not to take part in the election, which has been has been delayed by a month to August 23.
Madagascar has found itself in political limbo after Rajoelina seized power from Marc Ravalomanana with military support. SADC suspend the country as a member and as result, it did not participate in the summit in Malawi.
The African Union has said it would not accept the results of an election won by any of the three candidates and urged them to accept the court’s decision.
The Malawi summit also endorsed the recent elections in Zimbabwe, declaring them free and fair. Regional leaders also urged Western countries to review their policies on Zimbabwe.
“I believe totally that Zimbabweans deserve better and Zimbabweans have suffered enough,” said Banda.
President Jacob Zuma, who has been a key mediator in both Zimbabwe and Madagascar, declared the summit a success.
“I think it went very well. We discussed quite a bit and in my view, we achieved a lot in this summit,” said Zuma.
“We have managed to elect two women to top positions, which also says we are serious about ensuring that … [we] elevate women in these decision making positions.”