LILONGWE — Sadc leaders meeting for their 33rd annual summit in Malawi yesterday endorsed the disputed July 31 elections in Zimbabwe won by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF.
BY ELIAS MAMBO
Malawian President, Joyce Banda who took over as the Sadc chairperson from outgoing leader, Mozambican president Armando Geubuza congratulated Mugabe for conducting “peaceful and fair polls.”
“We wish to offer you continued support as a member of the family,” Banda said.
African Union (AU) Commission chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also congratulated Mugabe for holding credible elections, amid reports that the Zimbabwe leader was given a near-hero welcome by delegates.
Observers from both the AU and Sadc endorsed the elections saying they were held in a peaceful and free environment. But the two bodies are yet to take a decision on the fairness of the polls.
The Sadc summit was preceded by a closed door gathering of the Sadc troika on Friday night attended by leaders from South Africa, Namibia and Tanzania.
Although the two-day summit is called to discuss the political and security situation in the region, the recently concluded election in Zimbabwe will make it to the agenda after Geubuza insisted on including it.
But Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said a communiqué would be issued today for the “opposition to see”.
“We knew it would end like this and Zimbabwe is no longer on the Sadc agenda after holding a successful election,” he said.
A jovial Mugabe left the Sadc meeting a happy man, raising his traditional clenched fist. He thanked the outgoing Sadc executive secretary, Tomaz Salamao for a job well-done.
Sources said Zimbabwe and Seychelles were fighting to deputise Malawi.
Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi refused to comment saying independent papers have been distorting facts.
Upon Mugabe’s arrival at Kamuzu International airport on Friday, he took a swipe at the West after being asked on their reaction to the just-ended disputed elections in which he trounced his long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T.
Mugabe said the West always wanted to dictate the state of affairs in Africa.