Southern African Development Community's preparedness to deal with terrorism and extremist: The case of Zimbabwe 2008-2016
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The study is an investigation on the concern by some section of the Western European social commentators that sub-Sahara, including Zimbabwe, offers a conducive environment for terrorists’ safe haven’. Further complicating this predicament is these accusers, allege that region’s security sector, does not have an effective counter-terrorist strategy. In fact, their conclusion was that African Union’s (AU) counter-terrorism policy is not working. It is on this background that the enquiry was interested in establishing Zimbabwe’s prepared to combat the threat of terrorism and extremism. An understanding of the concept of terrorism, albeit the failure by historians on terrorism to come up with a standard definition, was identified by many authors, falling mainly into what they termed ‘sub-state terrorism’ which is divided into five categories: (a) social revolutionary terrorism, (b) right-wing terrorism, (c) nationalist-separatist terrorism, (d) religious extremist terrorism, and (e) single-issue terrorism. According to the proponents of sub-state terrorism, each type tends to be associated with its own social-psychological dynamics. Regarding the objectives of the study, the enquiry was to: (a) analyse the international counter-terrorism legal instruments, African Union’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and that of SADC; (b) determine the level of extremist/terrorist threat facing SADC countries vis-àvis the region’s capacity to effectively respond to such threats; and lastly (c) establish Zimbabwe’s preparedness to counter terrorism and extremism. The AU’s guiding policy framework on counter-terrorism was established to be the Algiers Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, 1999, which the majority of the African states ratified. The threat of terrorism and extremism besides being a destabilising factor in the Equator regions of Africa namely; Western, Sahel/Maghreb, and Eastern regions, similar threat developments have been reported in the SADC region especially Zambia and South Africa where the Muslim jihad-led terrorism is instigated by al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab terrorism gangs. Zimbabwe, together with the rest of the member states of SADC, are reported to have sought to fight all facets of terrorism through regional cooperation. The regional body has thus identified the international dimensions of terrorist being the ones among others, which vi range from terrorist recruitment and training, financing, and operations that include sleeper cells operatives and human traffickers. As a result, the region’s combat posture necessitated the formation of regional statutory bodies like; Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA), Inter-state Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC), Inter-state Politics and Diplomacy Committee (ISPDC), Ministerial Committee Organisation (MCO) and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services for Africa (CISSA) Southern Region among a host of other counter combat initiatives which Zimbabwe is a member. Regarding Zimbabwe’s preparedness in terms of institutional and legal frameworks, it was established that the country has since enacted laws that help curb the threat of terrorism and extremism-related activities. The laws are; Foreign Subversive Organisations Act Chapter 11: 05, Emergency Powers Act, Unlawful Organisation Act Chapter 11: 13 (1980), and ‘the Post and Telecommunication Services Act Chapter 12:02 (1988), mentioning these few. The study also established that the SADC Harmonised Regional Strategy to curb extremism and terrorism emanating from the illegal migration, smuggling of migrants and trafficking of persons was being mooted whose operationalisation will help Zimbabwe’s combat readiness. Zimbabwe is established to have further shown some resolve in its fight against the threat of terrorism and extremism, by its institutionalisation of Inter-Ministerial and Inter-Security Services Committees. These Committees meet regularly to strategise on the way forward to combat the alluded threat(s).