South Africa Warns On Early Zimbabwe Elections

HARARE, – South Africa has warned that anyone calling for fresh elections before a new constitution in Zimbabwe will be violating the Global Political Agreement (GPA), in a thinly veiled rebuke of President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe has been threatening to call for early elections with or without a new constitution saying his coalition partners are deliberately stalling the process to delay the process.

But South Africa’s deputy minister of International Relations and International Cooperation, Marius Fransman indicated in a statement  that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) did not expect elections anytime soon in Zimbabwe.

South African President Jacob Zuma was appointed by SADC to mediate in the Zimbabwe crisis and one of his key mandates is crafting a road map for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

“The South African position and that of SADC is to ensure that the next elections as envisaged in the GPA are held under a new constitution that would have been the product of the constitution making process supported by the Zimbabwean electorate through a referendum,” Fransman said in a statement to journalists.

“In this regard, any calls for elections without the finalisation of the constitution making process are in breach of the GPA as well as the constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment no 19, which gives legitimacy to the inclusive government.”

The minister said Zuma’s facilitation team, which was in the country last week, was assisting the three parties in the inclusive government to draft a roadmap to elections.

He said the roadmap should include the full implementation of the GPA, the functioning of the three important commissions namely the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

Mugabe has in the past insisted that Zanu PF has met part of its bargain in the implementation of the GPA.

But Fransman indicated that South Africa still considered the controversial appointments of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and attorney general Johannes Tomana to be outstanding issues.

Fransman said MDC-T treasurer general Roy Bennett must also be appointed deputy agriculture minister.

He said ZEC chairman Simpson Mtambanengwe had told Zuma’s facilitation team that the commission had started the process of cleaning the voters roll.

A referendum on the new constitution would be held later this year, Fransman said.  

The South African minister also noted that the political environment in Zimbabwe remained