Tsvangirai to embark on new regional diplomatic offensive

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is to embark on a diplomatic offensive to seek greater support from the SADC regional bloc, following an intense blitz on his party officials and activists by ZANU PF.\r\n

In recent weeks MDC legislators and supporters, plus human rights and pro-democracy activists, have been on the receiving end of an escalating crackdown by Robert Mugabe’ ZANU-PF party, which is destabilizing the unity government.

An MDC insider told us Tsvangirai believes that success in the shaky inclusive government requires the positive support of the SADC regional bloc. Since the crackdown began in January SADC has been completely silent.

During his week long foray, the MDC leader is expected to try to push SADC to convene the long delayed Troika summit on Zimbabwe. The summit, which has been postponed several times, is set to deal with the outstanding non-compliance of the Global Political Agreement, something that continues to impede the transitional government.

Both SADC and the AU are guarantors to the GPA and it is believed the Prime Minister will also brief the regional leaders on the latest crackdown on many of his officials and party supporters.

The latest political crisis was triggered by the arrest of Elton Mangoma, the Energy and Power Development Minister, who is a key ally of Tsvangirai. Also creating this crisis was the Supreme Court judgement that nullified the election of the MDC-T’s Lovemore Moyo, the first non ZANU PF speaker of Parliament since independence in 1980.

On Monday Tsvangirai met Mugabe for their usual weekly meetings and it was the first time the two met since last week’s volatile events. Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka confirmed the meeting, but would give no details.

The Prime Minister’s first port of call in the region is expected to be Lusaka, Zambia, where he will meet with the Troika chairman, President Rupiah Banda.

In November 2010, a SADC Troika failed to meet in Gaborone, Botswana because Banda and President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique did not bother to show. Analysts roundly condemned SADC for treating the Zimbabwe crisis lightly and blamed some of the leaders for treating Mugabe with kid gloves.

The MDC is calling upon SADC to take a leading role in drawing up a roadmap to ensure free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai has been advocating for this roadmap to ensure a credible poll. – SW Radio