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New SADC body for opposition parties



Former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane
Former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane

Keiso Mohloboli

OPPOSITION parties from the Southern Africa region have established an organisation to share knowledge, collaborate and advise each other on the challenges they face.

Dubbed the Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change (SAPDC), the organisation was established yesterday during a two-day conference held in Kempton Park, Johannesburg. The forum was hosted by the Forum for Public Dialogue in collaboration with the African Democratic Institute (ADI).

SAPDC consists of Lesotho’s main opposition party, All Basotho Convention (ABC), Namibia’s Rally for Democracy, Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), South Africa’s Democratic Alliance (DA), Tanzania’s Civic United Front, Zambia’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), Angola’s Convergencia Ampla de Salvacao de Angola-Coligacao Eleitoral (CASA-CE) and Swaziland’s People’s United Democratic Movement.

ABC Secretary-General Samonyane Ntsekele told the Sunday Express on the side-lines of the forum that opposition parties in southern Africa were facing a challenge where governments regarded them as the “enemy” and not governments in waiting.

He said it resulted in political instability because governments ended up not engaging opposition parties as stakeholders in democratic change and good governance.
“Opposition parties have the same challenges in the region hence this collaboration. Governments in the southern African region regard the opposition as an enemy and not government in waiting and end up not engaging opposition in democratic change issues,” said Mr Ntsekele. “As a result, governments use security establishments, mostly the army, to intimidate the opposition.”

He said SAPDC was not meant to fight governments or any regional bodies but to be a platform for opposition parties to share ideas and resolve challenges facing democratic change.

ADI Executive Director George Sibotshiwe said ABC leader and former premier Thomas Thabane presented a report on the political situation in Lesotho and narrated the events that led to his escape. Dr Thabane and other opposition bloc leaders fled the country fled to South Africa in May last year claiming the military wanted to kill them to settle old scores. However, the army has vehemently denied the allegation.

Mr Sibotshiwe said SAPDC was meant to give opposition parties in the region a platform to share ideas.
“An organisation like this has been missing in our region to give opposition parties a platform to share experiences and ideas,” he said.
The forum also elected DA leader Mmusi Maimane to chair the body, with MMD leader Nevers Mumba the deputy chair.

Committee members are MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and CASA-CE Vice-President Angola Manuel Fernandes.

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