SADC pressures Mugabe
THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) Troika of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation last week poured cold water on ZANU-PF’s calls for June elections insisting the inclusive government must fully implement an election roadmap agreed to under regional supervision.
This comes as President Robert Mugabe has said he will announce election dates this week while Prime Minister (PM) Morgan Tsvangirai insists that such dates have to be agreed on by all three parties in the inclusive government.
It also follows a regional tour by PM Tsvangirai to lobby for the full implementation of reforms agreed to in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that birthed the inclusive government.
Of late, ZANU-PF has been rubbishing statements by the Movement for Democratic Change formations seeking to prioritise security sector and media reforms as well as a restructuring of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) before elections.Issues to do with reforming ZEC, media and security sector were agreed to in the GPA but have been contentious throughout the lifespan of the inclusive government with ZANU-PF insisting that these were not necessary.
ZEC is the body charged with running elections in the country.
The public media has been used by ZANU-PF as propaganda machinery with the electronic media being at the centre of the dispute as there are no independent radio and television stations in the country.
Star FM is owned by Zimbabwe News-papers which is controlled by ZANU-PF through the Ministry of Information and Publicity while ZiFM boss Supa Mandiwanzira is a ZANU-PF supporter who has been co-opted into the party’s Manicaland provincial structures.
In fact, the Minister of Information and Publicity Webster Shamu, a ZANU-PF national political commissar, has flatly refused to meet with PM Tsvangirai in an act that would, under normal circumstances, be viewed as insubordination.
Security sector generals have also sided with ZANU-PF, denigrating the MDC-T leader as a “psychiatric patient” and “sellout” whom they have no reason to meet with.
In the past, the security establishment has helped prop up President Mugabe and has been accused of orchestrating political violence and intimidation in the lead up to the presidential run-off of June 2008 where 200 MDC supporters were believed to have died.
So faced with such damning evidence of non-cooperation on the eve of elections, the presidents of South Africa and Tanzania Jacob Zuma and Jakaya Kikwete as well as Namibia foreign affairs minister Netumbo Nadi-Ndaitwah who attended the SADC Troika’s meeting in Cape Town last week issued a communiqué calling for the full implementation of the election roadmap as agreed under the GPA.
“Summit urged the parties to finalise the outstanding issues in the implementation of the GPA and preparations for holding free and fair elections in Zimbabwe,” reads part of the communiqué.
The document also recognises the efforts of Zuma, who is the SADC appointed mediator to the Zimbabwean political squabbles, in ensuring that his northern neighbours “fully implement the GPA”.
Spokesperson to Zuma’s Zim-babwe facilitation team, Lindiwe Zulu, has in several interviews with this paper reiterated that it was SADC’s position that a full implementation of the election road-map, security sector, media reforms and ZEC restructuring included, had to be respected before elections are held in the country.
Diplomats who spoke to The Financial Gazette this week said recognition of Zuma’s efforts in insisting on the full implementation of the GPA meant the SADC leaders would push President Mugabe to peg poll dates beyond the June 29 deadline which his party has repeatedly campaigned for.
Some critics have even said that ZANU-PF itself was not ready for an early election considering the party has not held its primary elections and would also want enough time to campaign for the harmonised polls if it is entertaining any hopes of upstaging the MDC at the make or break polls.
If President Mugabe does postpone the elections, this would not be the first time that he has dramatically climbed down from a publicly entrenched position after pressure from SADC.
Throughout the lifespan of the inclusive government, the ZANU-PF leader has had to eat humble pie after repeated public pronouncements that the country will hold elections in 2010, 2011, 2012 and March 2013. He has also been forced to shelve his party’s 266 amendments to the constitutional draft drafted by an inter-party parliamentary committee.
Luke Tamborinyoka, PM Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, ratcheted up the pressure last week; “We are asking for the implementation of those reforms that were agreed to under the auspices of SADC. It’s not about ZANU-PF’s position as a party. It’s about implementing what the parties themselves said they would do. If ZANU-PF doesn’t want to implement, it then means they were never sincere with the GPA in the first place but wanted their defeat to be soft-landed. Remember these guys were defeated in the only legitimate election of 29 March 2008”.