ACTION’s attendance of the dialogue hosted by the Southern African Liasion’s Office (SALO), and respective partners on August 06, 2015, provided an opportunity for all present to engage on the topic of ‘Building Regional and International Consensus: Burundi, Lesotho, Madagascar and Zimbabwe’. The panelists that were made up of various practitioners, academics and researchers in the field of peace and security, interrogated the current causes of conflict in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Their discussions were centered on unraveling the situation in Burundi, Lesotho, Madagascar and Zimbabwe by examining the role of multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations, the African Union and SADC, in strengthening peace and security interventions.
Drawing on the role and strength of SADC in Zimbabwe, Madagascar as well as Lesotho, participants debated about SADC’s brokered mediation in these countries, particularly in failing to implement most of the agreements that were put in place. This then led to a discussion about the challenges that face regional bodies in mediation and the fear of countries not abiding by agreements to ensure peace and stability.
An example cited was the political situation in Lesotho, which highlighted an interesting debate around the role of multilateral interventions in dealing with domestic conflicts. The assassination of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao has drawn attention to the pressing need to examine and strengthen multilateral interventions in Lesotho. Similarly, the gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe and failure to implement the much needed security sector reforms in the country bears testimony to this. This means that more still needs to be done in ensuring sustainable peace.
However, these issues threaten the effectiveness of multilateral institutions in brokering long lasting peace in the region as well as at continental level, with the conflict in Burundi as an example, in which the AU and regional bodies are accused of watching whilst the conflict is escalating. Despite the obstacles, the role of multilateral institutions in the region should not be undermined given that things could have spiraled out of control in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Madagascar had SADC not intervened. However, the mediating role of multilateral institutions and their collaboration in the region needs to be reexamined to ensure sustainable peace and stability both at regional and continental level.