Zimbabwe leaders still commited to deal – SADC Official

We’re here to continue to help the Zimbabweans in their difficult journey – said Tomaz Salomao, secretary general of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), on the eve of the summit in Mozambique’s capital.

One thing I can guarantee is that there is a commitment from all the Zimbabwean parties to make the political agreement work, to make the unity government work, given the positive results it’s achieved in its nine months of existence. –

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader, cut ties with veteran President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party in mid-October, threatening the fragile unity government set up in February to pull Zimbabwe out of economic and political crisis.

Thursday’s summit will bring together the rivals and deputy premier Arthur Mutambara with leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia.

Salomao said the leaders would hear feedback from a SADC fact-finding mission that visited Harare last week but that the outcome of the summit would ultimately be up to Zimbabwe’s leaders.

President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai, Professor Arthur Mutambara and other Zimbabwean political actors know very well — better than anyone — what is good for Zimbabweans – Salomao said.

Human rights organisations on Wednesday urged the region to take a more proactive stance on the crisis.

Recent reports that ZANU-PF continues to arrest and harass human rights and civil society activists should act as a warning to the regional leaders that Zimbabwe may slide back into violence and chaos if they do not take decisive action – warned Georgette Gagnon of Human Rights Watch.

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa called for a team to investigate political violence and intimidation, and for SADC to deploy a "standing presence" in Zimbabwe until a new constitution had paved the way for fresh elections.

If the (unity government) can’t be rescued, it will be a colossal failure for SADC – said Sisonke Msimang, the organisation’s executive director.