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Storm over Zim crisis splits SADC

Storm over Zim crisis splits Sadc

Thursday, 29 July 2010 20:50

A POLITICAL storm is gathering over the Southern African Development
Community (Sadc) on whether Zimbabwe should be on the agenda of the regional
bloc’s forthcoming summit in Windhoek, Namibia, next month.

Diplomatic sources said this week the potential row pits President Robert
Mugabe’s Sadc allies against those who support Prime Minister Morgan

Mugabe usually resists having Zimbabwe on the agenda of such meetings, while
Tsvangirai wants it to be discussed.
A similar battle erupted last year just before the Sadc summit in Kinshasa
on September 7-8.

Mugabe is said to have an edge on the issue as the incoming Sadc chair,
Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, is his ally just like current chair,
DRC President Joseph Kabila. Throughout his one-year tenure, Kabila did not
significantly step up efforts to resolve the Zimbabwe situation. He was not
even there at the extraordinary summit of the Sadc organ on politics,
defence and security in Maputo on November 5 last year although he later
attended the double troika of Sadc heads of state and government in Maputo
on January 14. Madagascar and Zimbabwe were discussed at that summit.

Kabila only sent his special envoy for Sadc affairs Leon Jean Ilunga Ngandu
to Harare.
Zimbabwe has moved into the Sadc spotlight and up the agenda ahead of the
bloc’s summit in Windhoek from August 16-17 because of the endless power
struggles within the inclusive government and its failure to fulfil the
Global Political Agreement (GPA) which led to the formation of the coalition
regime last year in February.

Ministers connected to the directorate of the organ on politics, defence and
security meet in Maputo from August 3-6 to discuss the regional situation
and prepare for the Sadc summit. Zimbabwe could use that platform to ensure
nothing is discussed about Harare affairs in Windhoek.

To show that he was no longer under regional pressure, a top Sadc diplomat
said Mugabe was actually pushing to either go into the troika of the organ
on politics, defence and security or the troika of the summit which would
then allow him to host the next Sadc meeting.

Mugabe was humiliated in 2002 after a disputed presidential election when
Sadc leaders refused to  allow him to host their summit due to the political
and economic crisis engulfing the country. Tanzania stepped in and hosted
the summit in 2003.

Sources said Zimbabwe could be removed from the Sadc summit agenda which
includes Madagascar and Lesotho. The Democratic Republic of Congo situation
is also on the Sadc radar.

“There is an attempt by Mugabe and his allies to ensure Zimbabwe is not on
the Sadc summit agenda,” a top Sadc diplomat said. “The pretext being used
is that the economic and political situation has now stabilised.

“The other excuse is that the political principals of the inclusive
government resolved a number of outstanding issues last month. However, the
problem is now the issue of the appointment of new ambassadors.”

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara last month
discussed the report of their political party negotiators and compiled their
own report outlining areas of agreement and disagreement. The report, sent
to Zuma, indicated that most of the outstanding issues had been dealt with
except three – the swearing-in of Roy Bennett and the appointment of Reserve
Bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana.

However, just as progress was being made, Mugabe pulled a shocker last week
when he re-assigned diplomats at the country’s foreign missions in different
countries without consulting Tsvangirai as required by the GPA. This
followed a similar appointment of judges without consultation.
Mugabe made at least seven diplomatic appointments without consulting
Tsvangirai despite the fact that the constitution now requires him to make
“key appointments” in terms of the constitution and any Act of Parliament
“in consultation with” the prime minister.

The issue of whether Zimbabwe would be on the agenda in Windhoek would be a
test of diplomatic savvy between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
Mugabe and his allies last year succeeded in getting Zimbabwe off the
official agenda in Kinshasa although South African President Jacob Zuma, as
Sadc chairperson, raised the issue in his official opening address behind
closed doors and in a briefing with journalists at his presidential guest
house quarters after the meeting.

Zuma’s push led to the holding of an extraordinary Sadc troika of the organ
on politics defence and security meeting in Maputo on November 5 last year
to discuss the Zimbabwe issue. The meeting saved the inclusive government
from collapse after the MDC-T had withdrawn from government, citing Mugabe’s
refusal to address outstanding GPA issues.

The need to finalise the remaining issues and the appointment of ambassadors
prompted Zuma to dispatch his special envoy, Mac Maharaj, to Harare this
week to meet Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara to try to resolve the disputed

Maharaj met the principals on Wednesday. Tsvangirai’s spokesman James
Maridadi confirmed the meeting.
Mutambara was unable to comment yesterday as he was in a meeting. Mugabe’s
spokesman George Charamba yesterday said he was unable to comment because he
has been away at a funeral. Yesterday he was at another funeral, that of
Mugabe’s sister, Sabina who died early yesterday morning.

Sources said because the Zimbabwe issue is looming large before the Sadc
summit, Zuma himself could visit Harare unless Maharaj brought back positive

Zuma was expected to return to Harare to finalise the remaining issues after
the African Union summit in Kampala, Uganda, this week.
Zuma was in Harare two weeks ago to pay his condolences to his in-laws, the
family of one of the negotiators, Professor Welshman Ncube, who recently
lost his father. Zuma’s daughter is married to Ncube’s son.

During his visit Zuma also paid a courtesy call on Mugabe where he
apparently indicated he might come back for business before the Sadc
summit. – Staff Writer.


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