SADC to convene Summit as MDC hold ground

Sources within the MDC leadership said they refused to be pushed around by a bunch of foreign Ministers from SADC countries whose agenda was to take directives from Robert Mugabe and former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The South African delegation in the SADC ministerial delegation dominated the proceedings and most of its members were former staff members of retired South African President Thabo Mbeki’s, with former Director-General Rev Chikane being vocal in an effort to put pressure on the MDC.

An MDC source said, Rev Chikane was pulling the strings on behalf of his handlers. 

It is believed that DRC President Joseph Kabila went to South Africa and met with former South African President Thabo Mbeki in private before his arrival in Harare.

Tsvangirai told reporters the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) defence, political and security troika would recommend holding a special summit to discuss difficulties facing his strained unity government with President Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai said no date had been set.

A Southern African delegation tried to exert pressure on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC to end a cabinet boycott in an effort to resolve rifts threatening Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government, but the MDC has refused to give in on their demands.

“I have been advised that the SADC Troika will recommend the convening of an extraordinary SADC summit to deal with the matter,” Tsvangirai told reporters after his meeting with a SADC security organ ministerial team currently reviewing implementation of Zimbabwe’s fragile power-sharing agreement

The SADC Troika review mission jetted into the country following Tsvangirai’s decision two weeks ago to partially disengage his MDC party from the coalition government in protest against Mugabe’s failure to fully implement a power-sharing pact – Global Political Agreement (GPA) – that established the coalition government last February.

The disengagement that has seen the former opposition party boycott two successive weekly Cabinet meetings has paralysed government operations and threatens to collapse the eight-month-old coalition administration.

“The Troika does not solve anything. Its mandate is to gather information and make recommendations,” Tsvangirai said, adding; “We have to find a solution to this crisis so that we could get on with the work of making the inclusive government work again.”

The Troika mission to Harare, which is led by Mozambique’s Foreign Affairs Minister Oldemiro Baloi, includes Zambian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Fashion Phiri and Swazi Foreign Affairs Minister Lutho Dhlamini.

SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao and South African facilitators to the dialogue that led to the formation of the inclusive government, Frank Chikane and Monjaku Gumbi, are also part of the review team.

Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s sole ruler since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980 and former opposition leader Tsvangirai remain deadlocked over key appointments while the MDC also accuses ZANU PF of engaging in a campaign to persecute its supporters.

At least 17 MDC legislators have been arrested since the beginning of the year on charges ranging from theft and public violence to rape and playing music that denigrates Mugabe.

ZANU PF accuses the MDC of reneging on a promise to push for the removal of travel bans and an asset freeze slapped by the West on its senior officials.

Analysts say neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai wants to see the coalition government collapse because both stand to benefit from its continued existence. However, they warn that the incessant squabbles between the two could in the long-run cripple the administration and render it ineffective.