ZIMBABWE is expected to dominate proceedings today when Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders exchange notes on regional issues on the sidelines of the official opening ceremony of the body’s headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana.Along with the precarious Madagascar situation, which has been worsened by coup threats in the past few days, and Lesotho, Zimbabwe is expected to seize the attention of leaders, particularly those who sit on the Sadc organ on politics, defence and security.
The organ is currently chaired by Zambian President Rupiah Banda and includes South African President Jacob Zuma and his Mozambican counterpart Armando Guebuza.
The Sadc summit troika includes chairman, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos and Congolese leader Joseph Kabila.
Although Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Salomao and the director of the organ, retired lieutenant-colonel Tanki Mothae, could not be found for comment yesterday, informed sources in Gaborone said the Zimbabwe issue would be discussed on the sidelines of the ceremony.
“Sadc leaders will be here for the official opening of the Sadc headquarters and will take the opportunity to discuss the regional situation, particularly the state of affairs in Madagascar, Lesotho and Zimbabwe,” a Sadc official said.
“The Zimbabwe issue will dominate the discussions because of the talk of elections and the missed deadlines on the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
“The summit in Windhoek recently gave some deadlines to Zimbabwean leaders to implement the GPA but nothing much was done. Leaders will review the situation and map the way forward.”
After the Sadc summit in Windhoek on August 16-17, Zimbabwe’s political principals were expected to clear a number of issues from the deck. These included GPA outstanding issues such as the appointment of provincial governors, appointments of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and the swearing-in of MDC-T deputy Agriculture ministerial candidate Roy Bennett.
Besides, Zimbabwe’s leaders were supposed to implement within a period varying from a month to two months in some cases the issues of media reforms, external radio stations, a land audit and ministerial mandates. Also due for resolution, were the National Economic Council, constitutional commissions, national heroes, rule of law, state security organs and institutions, cabinet and council of ministers’ rules, constitutional amendment No 19, electoral amendments and sanctions.
Sadc leaders in Windhoek urged “Zimbabwe stakeholders to remain committed to the implementation of the GPA; reiterated its call on the international community to lift all forms of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in view of the negative effects they have on Zimbabwe and the Sadc region in general; and mandated the chairperson of Sadc assisted by the chairperson of the organ and the facilitator of the Zimbabwe political dialogue to engage the international community on the issue of sanctions”.
Zimbabwe’s GPA parties were also directed to “find an uninterrupted path towards free and fair elections and the removal of impediments as and when they arise”. The Sadc troika of the organ on politics, defence and security was urged to rope in the region to help Zimbabwe to “draw guidelines for a free and fair election, where intimidation and violence would not play any part and where the result of such elections would be credible”.
However, nothing much was done since the Windhoek Sadc summit. In fact, relations virtually broke down between President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, leaving the inclusive government in a paralysis.
There is also now a resurgence of political repression and violence ahead of anticipated elections. Party political leaders are ratcheting up militant electioneering and raising the political temperatures in the process.
Tsvangirai recently visited Banda to lobby for his support in the wake on unilateral appointment of provincial governors by the president.
Mugabe on October 4 told Tsvangirai and Mutambara he had reappointed provincial governors without consultation, sparking a bitter political fallout with the premier. Since then Mugabe and Tsvangirai are virtually no longer on talking terms.
The arbitrary appointment of governors was preceded by other controversial appointments of judges and ambassadors. Tsvangirai described Mugabe’s appointments as “unconstitutional, null and void”, while dismissing his actions as “rank madness”. Mugabe described Tsvangirai’s complaints as “nonsensical”.
Tsvangirai wrote to Zuma complaining about Mugabe’s violation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and constitution. On Monday Zuma sent his team of facilitators which comprise Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe Zulu for urgent meetings with Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara.
Mugabe has refused to move on anything, insisting that he would not make any further concessions in implementing outstanding GPA issues until sanctions imposed on him and his cronies by western countries have been removed.