SADC will act in Zimbabwe – Zuma

Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday that intervention measures will be taken within the Southern African Development Community and other continental structures, should there be any indication that the provisions of democracy inside Zimbabwe are compromised.\r\n

"We have noted that since the establishment of the coalition government in Zimbabwe the nature and extent of violence has subsided," he said, giving a written reply to a Parliamentary question tabled by Athol Trollip, the Democratic Alliance leader in Parliament.

"We are confident that the current coalition government will make greater efforts to make certain that there is wide-spread respect and promotion for the rule of law and human rights, including political rights and freedom of association."

Trollip had asked whether he would make public the report made by retired generals sent to Zimbabwe to investigate the role of the military in the last year’s post-election violence, and whether he would send them back again now to probe reports of continued intimidation and harassment.

The President’s reply indicated that he would not send them back, and he told Trollip that since the report was only made orally to former president Thabo Mbeki, he had no report available to release.

The Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will meet his party’s Parliamentary caucus in Harare on Wednesday to discuss their concerns over the recent arrests and convictions of MDC MPs.

Mathias Mlambo the MDC MP for Chipinge East confirmed that Tsvangirai will be meeting the MPs in the morning. Mlambo was himself suspended from Parliament after he was recently sentenced to 10 months in prison by a Chipinge magistrate on trumped up charges

“We met the President (Tsvangirai) last week but only briefly, so tomorrow’s (Wednesday) meeting is expected to look at all the concerns raised by the MPs in recent weeks,” the Chipinge East MP said.

Mlambo has appealed against his jail sentence and was been granted bail. He described his suspension from Parliament as ‘null and void.’

The MP maintains he is innocent of any wrongdoing and claims the charges he faced were concocted by ZANU PF with the help of the police. He said his lawyers last week lodged an appeal at the High court, against the suspension from Parliament.

“I’m meeting with my lawyers tomorrow to get an update on the appeal but as far as I know we haven’t received any word from the High court,” he reported.

The MDC accuses Robert Mugabe of using the Attorney General Johannes Tomana to get back ZANU PF’s Parliamentary majority by using trumped-up criminal charges to drive out elected MDC MPs.

Mugabe’s ZANU PF lost its grip on the legislature for the first time in its history after the 2008 March elections when the MDC took control of the Lower House and drew level in the Senate.

At least seven MDC MPs have been convicted this year, or are facing trumped-up charges for various allegations. They include Mutasa Central MP Trevor Saruwaka, Chimanimani West legislator Lynnette Karenyi, Senator Roy Bennett, Mutare West MP Shuah Mudiwa and Chipinge South MP Meki Makuyana.

Tsvangirai is expected to fly out to Johannesburg on Friday for a meeting with SADC Chairman Jacob Zuma to try and push the regional bloc to convene an urgent meeting to deal with the remaining issues in the Global Political Agreement.
The MDC leader is hugely frustrated by the lack of progress in solving the thorniest issues in the GPA, after Mugabe last week refused to budge on his re-appointment of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, and Attorney General Johannes Tomana. The three principals have since declared a deadlock on these two issues, meriting intervention from SADC as guarantors of the deal.

Zuma, who holds the rotating Chairmanship of SADC, was sent a letter by Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara two months ago, asking for assistance in resolving the outstanding disputes in the inclusive government.

Sox Chikohwero, the militant Chairman of the MDC Veterans’ Activists Association told us that when Zuma was campaigning for the South African Presidency he promised to deal with the Zimbabwe issue if he was elected.

“It’s almost three months after he was elected but we’ve not heard a thing from Zuma. It appears he has adopted the ‘quiet diplomacy’ posture more robustly than Thabo Mbeki the creator of this monster. All we are asking him to do is to deliver on his election promises,” Chikohwero stated