Cape Town – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has scored a
major diplomatic comeback after Southern African leaders hailed his re-election
and selected him the next chairperson of Southern African Development Community
(SADC), according to a report.
Business Day said on Tuesday that Mugabe was at a weekend
summit in Lilongwe elected deputy chairperson of the 15-nation bloc for the
next year. This means he will host the next summit in Harare in August 2014 and
automatically succeed Malawi’s Joyce Banda whose one-year term as chairperson began on Sunday.
Part of a communiqué released after the summit read: "The
Summit elected Her Excellence Joyce Banda [the President] of the Republic of
Malawi and His Excellence Robert Gabriel Mugabe President of the Republic of
Zimbabwe as chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of SADC respectively."
Zimbabwe's state owned Herald quoted Mugabe as saying the
country should "adequately prepare" for next year's summit.
Mugabe said the summit was unanimous in endorsing the 31
July elections "despite efforts by Western posers and non-governmental
organisations who sought to discredit the polls".
According to Business Day, SADC's outgoing executive
secretary, Tomaz Salomao, said there was nothing surprising about Mugabe’s
election to succeed Banda next year.
"There is an alphabetical roster for the chairmanship,
according to a country’s name," he said.
The formula to explain the jump from M for Malawi to Z for
Zimbabwe, scaling many other member states, was not immediately clear.
Zimbabwe’s leader is regarded by many in Southern Africa as
a liberation struggle hero who is almost above criticism, particularly by
Mugabe is set to be sworn in for his eighth term on