FOLLOWING last week’s expiry of the 30-day deadline set by regional leaders for Zimbabwe’s coalition government to implement outstanding issues, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday slammed Sadc chief, Tomaz Salomao, over the handling of the Zimbabwe crisis at the Windhoek summit in August.Upon return from the summit, the MDC-T accused the regional body’s executive secretary of not capturing a report by the Sadc mediator on Zimbabwe, President Jacob Zuma, which outlined the outstanding issues and a roadmap for free and fair elections.
Tsvangirai’s party claimed that it wrote to Salomao at the end of August seeking assurances that the regional body would ensure credible polls were held in Zimbabwe. It also protested against the alleged “doctoring” of the Sadc communiqué.
The MDC-T accused the secretariat of blocking debate on Zimbabwe at the full summit of leaders.
However, in an exclusive interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, Salomao denied ever receiving a letter from the MDC-T.
“Everyone is telling me that I am supposed to have received a letter from (Tendai) Biti, but I didn’t receive any letter,” he said.
Salomao then asked: “What was the letter supposed to have been about?”
When told that it was an official complaint about the way he handled the Zimbabwe issue at the summit and how he deliberately omitted recommendations from Zuma’s report which were endorsed by the regional leaders, he said: “The MDC has to learn how we do business in Sadc.
“Political parties attended the troika meeting of the Sadc organ on politics, defence and security and the communiqué was from the Sadc summit which discussed several other issues, including Zimbabwe.”
Asked about the roadmap to elections, which the MDC-T said Sadc should now implement, Salomao said: “I don’t have official communication from MDC regarding that issue. They have direct communication with me and the Sadc secretariat here (Gaborone) and they have to write to me about that.”
Salomao’s statements angered MDC-T, whose top leadership accused the Sadc secretary -general of being a “liar and pushing a Zanu PF agenda”.
This is likely to cause a crisis in Sadc, whose leaders are given the opportunity to read through the initial draft communiqué before the final one is endorsed by the summit.
In another interview, Tsvangirai insisted that the letter was definitely sent to Salomao. “We had to register our displeasure because he tried to forge the communiqué,” he said. “He tried to say the facilitator’s report was not adopted. There was nothing in the final communiqué and yet it was adopted by the summit,” he said, adding that: “He (Salomao) wants to tell us about Sadc, he wants to take us for a ride.”
Biti, who authored the letter sent to Salomao, said: “That is a lie (Salomao not receiving the letter). I can actually give you a copy; I will give you the copy. I am going to send Salomao an email today. I wrote and sent that letter to him.”
In the letter, MDC-T noted and demanded answers on three areas of concern: 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.
A top MDC-T official accused Salomao of behaving like a “Zanu PF card-carrying member”.
“Salomao behaves like a Zanu PF functionary, which is not necessary,” he said. “He must know that there is a distinction between himself and Zanu PF. He acts as if he is card-carrying member — maybe he is,” he said, adding that: “It is time now that he actually understood what his interests are and his interests are not with the people of Zimbabwe. It is about life and death in this country. People lose lives because he is dilly dallying.”
The communiqué only spoke of a resolution for the regional leaders to lobby against the removal of sanctions.
Zuma’s report noted that the coalition government partners had agreed on a 30-day implementation matrix on 24 outstanding issues. It outlined a roadmap for elections in Zimbabwe as the most viable way out of the crisis.
The roadmap includes the completion of the constitution-making exercise, a referendum on a constitutional draft and the holding of general elections that parties hope will produce a clear and legitimate winner.