Sadc won't accept Mugabe poll date

HARARE - President Jacob Zuma, the Sadc appointed mediator to the Zimbabwe crisis says Zimbabwe’s ruling parties will have to secure consensus before proclaiming election dates.

Reacting to President Robert Mugabe’s unilateral proclamation of an election on July 31, Zuma’s international relations advisor Lindiwe Zulu told the UK Telegraph that the regional body will not allow another sham election reminiscent of the 2008 vote which according to rights groups claimed over 200 lives.

She spoke ahead of a crucial regional summit of the Sadc in Maputo today convened to discuss a request to fund Zimbabwe’s forthcoming election and the state of preparedness for the poll.

The bankrupt Harare administration has appealed for $132 million from the regional bloc to bankroll the election.

“Sadc is concerned that there should be an election that is nowhere near what happened in 2008,” Zulu said.

“At the end of the day, there are three parties in the coalition and Sadc wants to see those three parties being in agreement rather than unilateral decisions.”

Fireworks are anticipated at the Sadc summit where the poll date dispute is expected to dominate the deliberations.

Mugabe invoked powers to sidestep Parliament in a move he claimed was meant to meet a Constitutional Court deadline to go to polls by July 31.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai dismissed the proclamation, accusing Mugabe of precipitating a constitutional crisis by turning into a “chief attacker” of the Constitution instead of being the “chief defender” that he must be.

The MDC leader vowed to file an urgent constitutional court application to scuttle Mugabe’s move and putting up a strong protest at today’s extra-ordinary summit on Zimbabwe in Maputo.

Tsvangirai argues that there has to be reforms first which include media and security sector and alignment of laws to the new constitution ushered in on May 22 before any election could be held.

Tsvangirai wants Sadc heads of State and government to exert sufficient pressure on the president to oblige him to rescind his decision.

The PM, who says he was not consulted about the election dates, has hinted that he may boycott the election.

This would lead to an election which would have questionable credibility within the country and even less outside.

Mugabe’s proclamation has caused a stir, with political parties ganging up against his unilateral proclamation.

According to the position    paper signed by Tsvangirai’s MDC, Simba Makoni’s Mavambo Kusile Dawn, Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Dumiso Dabengwa’s Zapu and Zanu Ndonga, the parties have resolved that Mugabe breached the country’s supreme law by unilaterally calling for elections without consulting his coalition partners.

“The situation created by President Mugabe’s proclamation will disenfranchise many people who are still registering to vote especially the first time voters and so called aliens,” reads the joint statement.

“The President is also denying political parties and voters the opportunity to exercise their right to inspect and agree on the voters’ roll. There should be a mandatory minimum 30-day period for voter registration that started on June 10. By invoking the presidential powers, the president unjustifiably and unconstitutionally usurped the powers of Parliament whose tenure subsides on June 29, 2013.”

Bulawayo East MDC Senator David Coltart Coltart said the regional body has for the past four years invested time, money and energy in the welfare of Zimbabwe therefore a free and fair election is a priority.

“The entire intention behind the Global Political Agreement was to resolve the 2008 crisis. If they realise that we are likely to go back to the same crisis, it is unlikely that they are going to be supportive of what is going on,” Coltart told reporters in Bulawayo yesterday.

“I will be very surprised if they don’t adopt a very hard line stance on this issue.

“What the region needs more than anything else is stability and what Mugabe’s decision can only do is to destabilise not only Zimbabwe but the whole region.

“I also believe this is not what Zimbabweans, Sadc and the AU need. We can just hope and pray that sanity will one day prevail.”

 Coltart, who is also the minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture said this comes at a time the regional body has sacrificed its credibility on the international community to be sole guarantors to the wobbly Zimbabwean situation.

“A lot of time and money has been invested in this process, to draw a line on violence, to give our country a chance of moving forward and we have made amazing progress,” the minister said.

Coltart said the danger posed by Mugabe’s declaration on election date was that everything the inclusive government worked so hard to save the nation from further collapse is bound to be torn up.

“We could find ourselves going back to 2008 where we had an election that lacked credibility that plunge the country into another crisis.”

The MDC senator said Sadc was well-versed with political events on the ground.

“Sadc and AU have a good intelligence in Zimbabwe. They even know that in Zanu PF there are people who don’t agree with this process,” he said. - Mugove Tafirenyika, Xolisani Ncube and Jeffrey Muvundusi

Comments (1)

“The entire intention behind the Global Political Agreement was to resolve the 2008 crisis. If they realise that we are likely to go back to the same crisis, it is unlikely that they are going to be supportive of what is going on,” Coltart told reporters in Bulawayo yesterday. The root cause of the crisis is the failure by MDC to implement the democratic reforms and the only reason that has happened is MDC's incompetence. If President Zuma and SADC are serious about stopping a repeat of the wanton violence of 2008 then they should call some other body to implement the reforms and not these GNU clowns. Even if the elections were delayed by five weeks or five months MDC will never get an meaningful implemented, they do not the foggiest idea what is required here!

W Mukori - 15 June 2013

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