Removal of Zimbabwe agenda from SADC Summit rocks Zanu PF

HARARE – SADC mediator and facilitator on the Zimbabwean crisis, South African President Jacob Zuma, has indicated that he will not attend the Namibian Heads of State Summit; dealing a devastating blow to Robert Mugabe and his party Zanu PF’s plans for for a snap election this year, The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal.

A South African embassy official in the Harare said Zuma will be overseeing the local government elections in his country and SADC has seen it fit that the Zimbabwe crisis problems cannot be discussed without the facilitator.

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This has left Robert Mugabe clutching at straws because he and his party faithful wanted the summit more than the MDC formations.

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Yesterday, Zanu PF even went a step further flying bands of hired party mobs and thugs to Namibia to sing and chant at the Summit venue in demand for elections this year and parade banners in support of its beleaguered leadership.

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Early this week, the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said in a statement, “As far as the MDC is concerned, what must be discussed at the Extra-ordinary summit is the progress that has been made by the negotiators in resolving the outstanding GPA issues. At the very least we want to see a clear roadmap to the holding of free and fair elections in the country.  New security sector reforms must also be put in place before the holding of free and fair elections,” the MDC said in a statement on the SADC summit.

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Sources said President Mugabe and his party Zanu PF were planning to use the summit to revisit the terms of reference of the SADC-South Africa mediation role in the context of the aftermath of the fall-out at the last SADC Troika summit in Zambia and the latest setback will surely cause havoc in the party ravaged by bitter internal infighting.

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In the last two weeks Mugabe and his party have been burning airline fuel travelling across the region in a desperate bid to rally and bully regional leaders ahead of what they dubbed make-or-break special regional summit scheduled for tomorrow Friday in Namibia.

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The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal that the Zanu PF regional lobbying has not gone down well with South African Presidency who feels that there has been an effort to undermine its position as mediator and usurp the powers of the Troika, a SADC body which deals with political problems in the region.

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The SADC troika, consisting of Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, and the South African and Namibian Presidents, Jacob Zuma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, has already issued a strong statement which specifically stated that the GPA is not being implemented, and so far that is the regional position and unless there is a dramatic shift, there won’t be a summit on Zimbabwe until Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF seek to abide by the full GPA agreement.

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President Mugabe’s Spokesman George Charamba was even quoted by the state media this week saying the government would set the record straight at the summit specifically on the political situation in Zimbabwe.

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He said dossiers on the complicity of the MDC-T in political motivated violence would be presented to the SADC leadership allegedly to prove Tsvangirai’s party lied in his report he presented at the last Troika meeting held in Livingstone, Zambia.

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Charamba’s outbursts shows that Zanu PF has been burning candles working night and day planning hard to mug SADC leaders with propaganda material prepared with the assistance of the partisan Zimbabwe Republic Police to lynch the MDC on Congress violence, but as it turns out this is now another yawn for the embattled former ruling party as South Africa pulls off the rug and all the work goes under the drain.

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Mugabe is becoming increasingly isolated within the region. The 87-year-old leader first got a taste of the changing realities within SADC at the Livingstone troika summit, where the octogenarian received a stinging rebuke from his peers for his failure to implement the GPA in full and for the continuing violence and arbitrary arrests in the country.

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At the Namibia summit Mugabe wanted the Heads of States to endorse his plan to force a snap election in Zimbabwe this year, but South Africa is having none of it and is insisting on full political reforms.

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Zanu (PF) has been saying that elections will go ahead this year without any reforms and that they will not allow SADC to resolve the security sector reforms. The MDC has said the security sector must be reformed as a matter of urgency and that the party will only participate in an election roadmap approved by SADC and an election that is free and fair.

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Mugabe has sent emissaries to the region, including his Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who turned up in Luanda, Angola. Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos refused to meet him and referred him to Vice President, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos instead and Minister of State Security Sydney Sekeramayi ambushed Mozambican President Armando Guebuza while on his State duties in a small town of Mocuba, both were trying and persuade them on elections and stop the security reforms.

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Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono was also dispatched to meet with Malawian president  Bingu wa Mutharika in Malawi, with the same message from Mugabe.

This is despite the fact that his party openly vilified the regional grouping and its leaders on several occasions over the past two months.

In the bid to beg Sadc for support, the Zanu PF ploy aimed to divide the region so that it would foist forward-leaning resolutions in favour of Zanu-PF which Mugabe would seek to use as fresh terms of reference altering the original GPA. 

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Mugabe and his party were looking forward to persuade a few regional leaders to fight in their corner to ensure that they come out of the Namibia summit without being battered any further and leave President Zuma isolated.

The SADC, led by Global Political Agreement (GPA) facilitator, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, is set to adopt a roadmap towards the country’s next elections but this has been put on hold on condition that all agreed political reforms have been met. South Africa has said in private, they don’t seek to surrender this role to a SADC Heads of State Summit where Mugabe would rough shod his peers like he used to do with the compliance of former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

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The executive secretary of the SADC Secretariat, Tomaz Salomâo, said the Council of Ministers that meets today has to make some decision on the Zimbabwean political reforms.

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The Madagascan mediator, Mozambique’s former President Joaquim Chissano, will be in attendance.

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But, said Salomâo, the Zimbabwe and Madagascan issues are not on the agenda, pending the ministers’ decision today which will be chaired by Zambia’s President Rupiah Banda.

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The Zambian President has the full support of South African President Jacob Zuma. Banda has been one of the few outspoken regional leaders and he has already given Robert Mugabe a bitter stinging rebuke, amid reports that he told him to shut up during the last Troika summit.

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The SADC Troika at the end of March at Livingstone, Zambia, proposed that the Summit receive an update on the two issues.

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But all else is set for the summit, said Salomâo. “We are ready to start the proceedings,” he said.

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The two items that will be tackled, in accordance with the SADC Summit in August 2010, also in Windhoek, are a report on the impact of the global economic crisis on the region, and the assessment of the recommendations of the proposed review of the SADC Tribunal.

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Salomâo said it is up to the Summit to make a final ruling on the SADC Tribunal. Another issue foisted by Zanu PF.

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SADC countries that will not be in attendance are Madagascar, which was suspended after the December 2009 coup d’etat, and Seychelles, which is currently holding elections.

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Salomâo said Swaziland has not yet indicated if it will attend the regional meeting.

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Preparations are also underway for SADC, Comesa, and the East African Community to meet in South Africa to discuss a free-trade agreement on June 12.

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In view of that, said Salomâo, the Summit will receive an update on regional integration.