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Zim issue suspiciously blocked from SADC debate

Zim issue suspiciously blocked from Sadc debate

Friday, 20 August 2010 09:33

ACCUSATIONS of political chicanery at the just-ended South African
Development Community (Sadc) summit in Windhoek, Namibia, have surfaced
following the failure of regional leaders to fully discuss Zimbabwe in their
main proceedings and reflect the issue in detail on the communiqué.

Diplomats and representatives of political parties at the summit say that
the issue of Zimbabwe was abandoned midstream after it was initially
discussed comprehensively by the Sadc troika of the organ on politics,
defence and security at the opening of deliberations  on Sunday. This raised
eyebrows, with claims that President Robert Mugabe had used his influence,
as he did at the Democratic Republic of Congo last year, to block the issue
from a full discussion by the summit.

Those who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent said the proceedings started
well with the organ on politics, defence and security meeting focusing in
detail on Zimbabwe before the issue was “blocked” from a full discussion by
the regional leaders at the summit.

The Zimbabwe issue was mainly discussed after a briefing to the Sadc organ
on politics, defence and security by South African President Jacob Zuma, the
regional body’s facilitator on the matter. Zuma’s report was fully adopted
by the organ on politics, defence and security which was chaired by
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza and the summit which met on Monday and

“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,” one diplomat said.

“There was chicanery and as usual the Sadc secretariat was used to ensure
that the Zimbabwe issue was not wholly discussed and proceedings on it not
fully reflected in the communiqué.”

A senior politician from the MDC-T said there was “mafia” in the Sadc
secretariat which did a “hatchet job” on behalf of Zanu PF to protect Mugabe
from rigorous engagement by his counterparts at the summit. “The mafia in
the Sadc secretariat intervened and blocked a full and proper debate on
Zimbabwe at the summit level. The same mafia manipulated the communiqué to
downplay the Zimbabwe issue,” the MDC-T official said. “But all the same the
issue received full attention at the organ on politics, defence and security
and that is what is important.”

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti said his party was “reasonably happy”
with discussion on Zimbabwe in Windhoek, although all the proceedings were
not fully captured in the communiqué.

“There has never been a Sadc so focused on Zimbabwe,” he said on Wednesday.
“Most of the issues on Zimbabwe were raised by the facilitator (Zuma) at the
meeting of the organ on politics, defence and security although the
communiqué does not capture everything. The communiqué is just a summary.”
Biti emphasised at a media briefing on Wednesday issues raised in Zuma’s
report and its recommendations which he said were “endorsed and accepted by
the full summit” rather than the communiqué.

He said it was now “critical for flesh to be put into the summit decisions”
and highlighted the need to fully implement agreed issues in the Global
Political Agreement, strengthen the Joint Monitoring and Implementation
Committee, various reforms including on the economy, electoral framework and
media, and the National Security Council.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara had a different view from
Biti on the outcome of the Sadc meeting. He said the most important
resolutions of the Sadc summit were only those “captured in the communiqué”,
not “opinions” of political parties after the meeting.

“If you want to know Sadc’s position on Zimbabwe and the most important
issues it discussed at the summit just read the communiqué,” he said.
“Everything else is just people’s views and opinions.”

Prior to the meeting there was a battle between Mugabe and Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai to influence events at the Sadc summit. Mugabe wanted the
issue to down-played and it appears in a way he succeeded. Tsvangirai
managed to force a full discussion at the organ on politics, defence and
security, although the communiqué did not capture that.

Mugabe appears to have done his work before the summit, judging by his
spokesman George Charamba’s remarks. Charamba was categoric that Zimbabwe
would not be a big issue at the summit.

“It (Zimbabwe) will not be an issue at the summit,” he said days before the
summit. “What will happen is that the facilitator (Zuma) will give an update
to the troika (peace and security) which will brief the summit as a point of
information and not of discussion.”

Charamba seemed convinced Zimbabwe would be raised “as a point of
information and not discussion” and that seems to have been the case
although there was vigorous debate at the organ on politics, defence and
security. Mugabe is happy with the outcome of the summit as a result.
The meeting of the organ on politics, defence and security started with Zuma
presenting his report in which he chronicled events from up to the time when
the principals agreed on 24 of the 27 outstanding issues. He gave the matrix
of implementation agreed upon by the principals.

Mugabe then thanked former South African president Thabo Mbeki, Zuma and the
organ on politics, defence and security. He said three quarters of what Zuma
said confirmed the narration of events. Mugabe did not initially agree with
Zuma on parts of his report on the “road ahead” although he later concurred.
Tsvangirai raised issues about the need for permanent representatives in
Zimbabwe of Sadc and the African Union as guarantors of the GPA. He
recommended that Sadc second a person to Jomic which he said should now be a
statutory body. The premier said he agreed with the recommendations made by

Mutambara told the organ on politics, defence and security that the meeting
should not be bogged down on a debate about elections but should instead
focus on GPA implementation. Mutambara, with the concurrence of Mugabe, said
there should not be external interference in Jomic. He recommended that
Jomic reports to the principals on the work they are doing. The meeting
lasted less than an hour.

The row over the Sadc summit proceedings and communiqué is likely to raise a
storm at the secretariat in the next few weeks as parties and their leaders
begin to stock and act on what they consider to be “damaging political
shenanigans” that characterised the summit.

Efforts to get comment from Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Salomao on the
issue failed this week.

Dumisani Muleya/Faith Zaba


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