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Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 23:15 GMT 00:15 UK
Southern African leaders snub Mugabe
Presidents Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique
SADC leaders are worried about the turmoil in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been dealt a twin blow at a summit of Southern African leaders in Malawi.

He has lost his cherished position as Chairman of the defence body of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and his peers expressed "concern at the effects of the Zimbabwean economic situation on the region".

Despite intense lobbying by Zimbabwe, there was no declaration of support for Mr Mugabe in what he sees as his continuing fight against colonialism in the form of his land reform programme.
President Mugabe
President Mugabe wanted southern Africa to support his "fight against imperialism"

South Africa, among others, voiced concern that Mr Mugabe had abused his position in 1998 by sending troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the name of SADC without adequately consulting his neighbours.

Of the 14 SADC members, only Angola and Namibia agreed to intervene in DR Congo, which recently joined the southern African body.

Declaring war

In March, SADC leaders decided that Mr Mugabe would no longer be permanent head of the community's security organ and that it would now be a rotating position.

Mozambique's President Joaqim Chissano has been named the new chair of the security organ, which has now been expressly forbidden from declaring war without the approval of a full summit of all member-countries' leaders.

Mugabe believes the MDC's success depends on white support, so whites are attacked ... it is an obsession,

Morgan Tsvangirai, Movement for Democratic Change

South Africa in particular has been badly hit by the overspill from Zimbabwe in terms of lower investor confidence in the region and a flood of economic refugees.

Meanwhile, Mr Mugabe told a Nigerian newspaper that he was confident that Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo could "save the situation" in Zimbabwe and defuse tensions between Harare and London over land reform and violence against white farmers, many of whom have UK origins.


Mr Obasanjo was also Nigeria's leader in the 1970s, when Mr Mugabe was fighting white minority rule in the then Rhodesia and he said: "I always remind President Obasanjo that: 'You are the master. I learnt from you the act of fighting the white man'."

Nigeria is due to chair Commonwealth talks on the Zimbabwe crisis in September.

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change, has voiced fears that the violence seen in the past week around Chinhoyi will spread across the country as presidential elections set for April 2002 draw near.

"I am very certain this is going to be replicated. Mugabe believes the MDC's success depends on white support, so whites are attacked ... it is an obsession," he said. "What is happening on the farms is going to engulf us all."

On Tuesday, Chinhoyi farmers said that, contrary to police claims to have restored calm, they were still under attack from a gang of up to 250 self-styled "war veterans".

They said that 100 farms in the area had now been trashed and pillaged.

Meanwhile, Germany has joined the list of countries condemning the latest outbreak of violence in Zimbabwe.

A statement from the foreign ministry said: "The government calls expressly on the government in Harare to do everything in its power to end the violence quickly".

On Monday, the US expressed its concern at "the level of political violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe".

The BBC's Rageh Omaar
"President Mugabe... said he would be prepared to step down only after the land question had been... settled"
See also:

14 Aug 01 | Africa
Fleeing Zimbabwe violence
14 Aug 01 | Cricket
England tour in doubt
12 Aug 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe land conflict escalates
10 Aug 01 | Africa
Farmers flee 'war vet' attacks
06 Aug 01 | Africa
Mbeki admits Zimbabwe failure
02 Aug 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe targets more white farms
09 Mar 01 | Africa
Violence haunts white farmers
13 Aug 01 | Africa
US attacks Zimbabwe 'abuses'
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