Burundi 'not fit' to join SADC

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Timo Shihepo

 

Windhoek - The SADC assessment mission has concluded that Burundi is not fit enough to join the regional bloc because the eastern African country is not showing any signs of being a democratic country.

Burundi, alongside Comoros, applied to be SADC members early 2017. The latter’s application was accepted at the SADC Heads of State summit last year, while Burundi is still struggling to join.

Burundi blew its chances of joining SADC because its president, Pierre Nkurunziza, provoked political instability when he took an apparently unconstitutional third term in office in 2015.

The Burundian government also rejected several SADC assessment missions which were necessary to measure how far the country has come to enable it to join the regional bloc.

An assessment mission which was supposed to be carried out in Burundi by a SADC envoy in May 2018 didn’t materialise. The Burundian government postponed the assessment mission saying the country was conducting a national referendum on 17 May 2018. 

However, the general consens among the SADC officials is that the real reason for the postponement was that Burundi was destined to fail the assessment at the time.

The Southern Times understands that Burundi last month hastily arranged for the SADC envoy to go and assess the country because the application still had to be discussed at the Ministerial Committee of the Organ on for Politics, Defence and Security meeting before the final decision would be taken at the 39th SADC Summit in  Tanzania in August.

The SADC envoy has now handed in its report to the SADC chairperson Dr Hage Geingob that Burundi should not join.

Geingob this week confirmed that the assessment mission has recommended for Burundi not be admitted into SADC.

“Burundi have applied to join the SADC family as a member. The SADC assessment mission has been send to Burundi, but recommended thus far that it is not yet propitious for Burundi to be admitted into SADC. This is due to unresolved democratic process in that country,” he said.

Geingob was speaking during a meeting with incoming SADC chairperson and Tanzania’s President Dr John Magufuli, in Windhoek.

Geingob added that SADC was also concerned about the accusations and counter accusations between Burundi and Rwanda about interference in each other’s internal affairs.

In April, Burundi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ezechiel Nibigira, assured Geingob that the country was ready to join SADC.

At the time he said, “Yes it’s true that after 2010, the country had a rough patch but our President (Nkurunziza) told me to share with you that Burundi has now fully recovered. There is total peace and security. People can now roam freely whether in the afternoon or night.”

Despite the assurance from the minister, the SADC assessment mission was having none of it and it appears now that Burundi’s quest to join SADC will linger on for many years.

The SADC Heads of State Summit to be hosted in Tanzania later this year will, however, have the final say on the report from the SADC assessment mission.

 

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