Instead, Mugabe, who is outgoing African Union chairman, sent Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi to represent him at the double troika where other Heads of State and Government from Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Tanzania met to discuss the deepening political crisis in Lesotho and other regional hotspots.
The leaders were expected to receive an update on the political situation in Lesotho from South Africa Deputy President and Sadc facilitator Cyril Ramaphosa.
South African President Jacob Zuma led his country’s delegation of Cabinet ministers.
Mugabe is an automatic member of the troika by virtue of his being Sadc former chairperson, while South Africa is participating in the summit in its capacity as the outgoing chairperson of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry principal director Regis Chikowore yesterday said he was unaware that Mugabe was supposed to attend the troika meeting.
“I don’t know about that, I have no information regarding the Sadc meeting you are referring to,” he said, before hanging up the phone.
The troika is chaired by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, who was set to attend along with Swaziland’s King Mswati III and Tanzanian leader John Magufuli. The political turmoil in Lesotho followed the assassination of the former chief of staff of the Lesotho Armed Forces, Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao, apparently by soldiers.
A Sadc commission of inquiry was established to investigate the murder and related issues.