All Eyes On SADC

Harare,- The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will again be the focus of attention at the weekend when it meets in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss the Zimbabwean crisis including the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the election roadmap.

Tensions between the parties that signed the GPA have continued to rise fuelled mostly by breaches to the Agreement and Zanu (PF)’s culture of impunity.

The return of Zanu (PF) bases manned by militia and blamed for the increasing violence has also hyped tempers while the selective application of the law by a compromised police force led by a Zanu (PF) apologist, Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, has complicated the situation.

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Chihuri is known for his partisan attitude and for his refusal to arrest Zanu (PF) members accused of murdering and maiming MDC activists over the last few years. Chihuri has also refused to act on corrupt Zanu (PF) stalwarts who have milked the Zimbabwean economy with impunity.

SADC convenes at a time when “the situation has worsened”, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told Radio VOP on Wednesday.

“The situation has worsened over the last six months with the election talk. Firstly, various spokespersons on behalf of Zanu (PF) insist that elections must be held this year and yet we all know that …certain issues have to be dealt with before an election date is announced. Issues such as the constitution making process, the cleaning up of the voters’ roll, the delimitation process and electoral reforms must be dealt with before we rush into an election.”

After being criticised for failing to meet its obligations and for promoting violence at a meeting of the Organ Troika of Politics, Security and Defence, in Livingstone Zambia last month, Zanu (PF) went into an overdrive attacking the SADC facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma.

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The party’s chief propagandist, Jonathan Moyo launched a scathing and insulting attack on the character of President Zuma. Zanu PF also attempted to discredit President Zuma’s facilitation team.

Tsvangirai condemned what he described as “uncivilised and undiplomatic behaviour”.

“I do not think that it helps for anyone to attack the person of President Zuma. It does not help because SADC has appointed South Africa to be the Facilitator in the dispute here. One would respect SADC and its Organs and that Facilitator did not appoint himself,” said Tsvangirai.

Zanu (PF) which lost the March 2008 elections to the MDC, has been concentrating its efforts on whitewashing the events on the ground instead of implementing their side of the bargain in the agreement.

On the other hand, the MDC, believes that the primary function of the GPA is to create conditions for a free and fair election and thus to end the Zimbabwe crisis once and for all.

“Thus, the MDC refuses to entertain the notion of elections until the necessary conditions are in place for legitimate and credible elections that reflect the will of the people and whose results will be respected by all stakeholders.

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Key amongst these reforms is the opening of the broadcast environment, a new electoral act, a new voters’ roll and constituency delimitation process, an impartial Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and security sector reforms,” said MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora.

“Hence that party’s desire to hold elections before further reforms can undermine its ability to undemocratically influence the election result. We believe that the summit must consolidate the SADC Troika position as communicated in Livingstone.

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It must also discuss the progress from the negotiators. The true test of this Summit is not which political party claims victory but what new freedoms and progress are tangible to the people of Zimbabwe.”

The MDC position is that the summit must take into account that once a new constitution is in place there needs to be some lag period within which the constitution must be implemented. For example, the constitution may call for creation of certain bodies or institutions, which must be in place, operating and effective prior to the election.

Tsvangirai praised SADC for its continued work on resolving the Zimbabwe issue.

“We are heartened by the brave stance of our colleagues in the region and by the facilitator, President Jacob Zuma.

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The region has given us reason to believe that SADC and the AU are ready to prevent the circus of 2008 that began in Kenya, was perfected in Zimbabwe but backfired with disastrous consequences in the Ivory Coast,” said Tsvangirai.

“This is the circus where losers of national elections are accommodated through power sharing arrangements,” the Premier added.“We applaud the position of SADC in ensuring that the process towards a free and fair election in Zimbabwe is fully supported, enhanced and consolidated,” he said.

Tsvangirai added that the AU and SADC, as the guarantors to the GPA, have shown that they are ready to nurse this process and to ensure that a credible government is put in place through a free and fair election.

“Thus the next months are going to be important in ensuring that we put in place the necessary mechanisms and building blocks to guarantee and protect the people’s vote and the people’s will.”

He also pledged his party’s commitment to abide by the GPA and to continue to be the voice and conscience of the people by standing for what is right and just.