President Robert Mugabe on Sunday night suffered a major body blow after regional leaders at a Sadc summit in South Africa told him to play ball and endorsed the Livingstone Troika resolutions.
The decision effectively throws out the window President Mugabe’s desire for elections this year, unless the octogenarian ditches Sadc and goes it alone.
The regional bloc’s Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, met in Livingstone, Zambia, on March 31 and made resolutions which angered President Mugabe and Zanu PF.
President Mugabe and his party said the resolutions were a product of misinformation and MDC-T propaganda before the State media’s pens went skiing castigating facilitator of the Zimbabwe crisis South African President Jacob Zuma. Among issues the Troika’s Livingstone Summit demanded were an immediate end to violence, intimidation, hate speech, harassment, and any other form of action that contradicted the letter and spirit of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
The summit resolved there should be a conducive environment for peace, security, and free political activity before any elections are held.
Sadc leaders said they would appoint a team to work hand-in- glove with with Jomic.
Although the communiqué issued on Sunday night was not explicit, it literally reiterated the Livingstone resolutions condemning violence blamed on State security agents.
President Mugabe reportedly pleaded for close to 45 minutes for the summit to disregard the Sadc Livingstone resolutions with no success.
The summit also resolved that the three political parties should have timeframes for the implementation of the roadmap which will lead to free and fair elections.
Sadc also resolved to send a delegation to the EU although it was not clear on the exact mission of the team.
Tendai Biti the MDC-T secretary-general said his party was pleased with the outcome of the summit.
“It was a re-endorsement of the Livingstone Summit,” Biti said. “Three members of the Troika will work with Jomic to ensure implementation of the resolutions.”
At a news conference before the summit, MDC spokesman Jameson Timba called for security sector reform because Zimbabwe’s security forces remain under Zanu-PF control. He said this is one of the reasons the Zanu-PF call for elections this year is improper.
“Total disregard for the Global Political Agreement. The machinery and factors impeding progress to peace and security remain in tact making nonsense of any call for an election.”
The communiqué issued after the summit read in part: “Summit mandated the secretariat to mobilise resources for Jomic for it to discharge its functions.
Summit encouraged the parties to the GPA to move faster in the implementation of the GPA and create an environment conducive to the holding of elections that will be free and fair in a level political field.
“Summit urged parties to the GPA to complete as a matter of urgency the drawing up of the timelines for the implementation of the roadmap as part of the programme of action going forward. Summit urged the Sadc Troika to remain seized with the implementation of the GPA in Zimbabwe.”
Jameson Timba, secretary for international affairs in MDC-T, said:
“We are pleased that the summit has noted and endorsed the Livingstone resolutions. We are equally pleased that the summit has directed that the parties should immediately develop time limits of the agreed roadmap.
“But most importantly we are pleased that the summit has endorsed the appointment of monitors who are to join Jomic. It is also pleasing to note that they have condemned in the strongest terms violence in all its forms and intimidation and hate speech.”
It was difficult to obtain comment from Zanu PF negotiators and officials because they left immediately after the summit.
However, presidential spokesperson George Charamba had earlier indicated that the Livingstone resolutions would be thrown out.
During the lead-up to the summit on Zimbabwe, there were demonstrations around the convention center in Johannesburg’s plush Sandton suburb as all parties tried to advance their views.
At the same time, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF embarked on an energetic campaign to present its views on the implementation of the multi-party political agreement that brought the unity government to power in February 2009.
During interviews with South African media and in leaflets distributed to all summit delegates, the party said the Southern African Development Community had “deliberately” chosen to ignore Zanu-PF input. It said SADC leaders had chosen to only consider what it called “misleading” information from Zimbabwe’s majority party, the Movement for Democratic Change.
“Livingstone represented a major advance on the part of SADC,” said Zimbabwean political analyst Bornwell Chakaodza.
“In the past, it had a softly-softly approach to our situation. I think the last thing that SADC wants is to look toothless, not only to Zimbabweans, but to the international community, after their robust approach.”
Neighbouring nations had previously handled Mugabe with kid gloves, and the pointed statement in Livingstone drew a fierce reaction from the 87-year-old president and his party, which questioned the integrity of South African President Jacob Zuma.
That provoked a diplomatic spat with Zimbabwe’s powerful neighbour, and Mugabe’s ZANU-PF has since softened its tone, perhaps realising the risks of alienating its most important trade partner.
Christopher Mutsvangwa, part of the ZANU-PF delegation at the talks, said a three-hour meeting Friday with Mugabe and Zuma had laid the groundwork for the summit.
“The matters discussed involved the requirements of the GPA that will pave the way for the new elections, like the drafting of the constitution,” he told AFP.
“We also want to minimise external interference. We are glad that the issue of the country’s security forces which was being drawn into the mediation talks has been put aside,” he said.