THE MDC-T has officially protested to the Sadc secretariat over the handling of Harare’s political stalemate at last week’s summit and asked for assurances that the regional body would ensure credible polls in Zimbabwe.
MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent last night that his party had officially communicated to the Sadc secretariat its displeasure over alleged “doctoring” of the Sadc communiqué and the blocking of debate on Zimbabwe in a full summit of leaders.
He refused to discuss contents of the letter which he said were confidential.
The letter of protest by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party is the clearest sign since the Sadc summit last week that regional leaders have failed to meaningfully patch up differences between coalition government partners.
Highly placed MDC-T sources said party secretary-general Tendai Biti authored the letter, which he dispatched to Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Salomao this week.
The party noted and demanded answers on three areas of concern in the letter: the alleged watering down of the communiqué, the blocking of debate on Zimbabwe in the full summit, and the implementation of a roadmap to free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
“Firstly, we are questioning the secretariat why it did not capture the decision of the Troika (organ on politics, defence and security cooperation) to put Zimbabwe forward for debate in the full summit of heads of state and government,” one of the sources quoted the letter as saying. “We have also questioned why the communiqué released at the end of the Summit omitted key details of the facilitator’s report on Zimbabwe.”
The source said South African president and facilitator of the Zimbabwe political negotiations, Jacob Zuma’s report and recommendations were adopted by the Troika and it was clear on the way forward.
“Failure to capture details of this report and the curious omission of debate on Zimbabwe by the full summit can only be interpreted as deliberate and meant to shield Mugabe,” the source added. “Thirdly, we want Sadc to explain how it is going to actualise the roadmap to elections and secure an environment that will allow a pre- and post-election environment conducive to a fair vote and acceptance of results arising from such a vote.”
Zuma presented a detailed report to the troika led by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza ahead of the heads of state and government meeting.
The Sadc communiqué barely mentioned details of Zuma’s report, leaving the MDC-T feeling cheated.
Biti was unavailable for comment yesterday.
He, however, said last week that although his party was happy that the troika adopted Zuma’s report, the MDC-T felt the communiqué did not adequately give effect to the report.
Zuma’s report noted that coalition government partners had agreed on a 30-day implementation matrix on 24 outstanding issues. The report cut a roadmap for elections in Zimbabwe as the most viable way out of the dysfunctional coalition government.
The roadmap includes the completion of the constitution-making exercise, a referendum on a constitutional draft and the holding of a general election that parties hope will produce a clear winner to avoid another coalition government.
The Zimbabwe Independent reported last week how the Zimbabwe issue was suspiciously blocked from the Sadc debate, resulting in the matter receiving very little attention from heads of state and government. Diplomats told this newspaper then that the matter should have been on the table for debate.
A top Sadc diplomat last night said: “President Zuma briefed the organ on politics, defence and security on the Zimbabwe issue and his report was unanimously adopted. What was supposed to happen was that Guebuza should have then briefed the summit and the leaders would have discussed the issue.
“But the Sadc secretariat blocked the issue on behalf of Mugabe and as a result it was not fully discussed as it should have been.
“There was chicanery and as usual the Sadc secretariat was used to ensure that the Zimbabwe issue was not fully discussed and proceedings on it not fully reflected in the communiqué.”
Salomao last night said he was yet to see the letter because he was in Angola and would only be back at his Botswana Sadc headquarters tomorrow.