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Sadc troika snubbed

Dumisani Muleya

SOUTHERN African Development Community leaders who planned to assess electoral conditions in Zimbabwe last month were unable to proceed with their miss

ion when authorities in Harare proved reluctant hosts.

Diplomatic sources said this week that a Sadc troika comprising South African President Thabo Mbeki, Lesotho Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili, and outgoing Namibian President Sam Nujoma had been expected to meet President Mugabe on January 17 in Harare in connection with the election, but were unable to fulfil their mission.

“The Sadc troika leaders had been due to meet Mugabe on January 17,” a diplomatic source said. “It seems that the meeting was arranged when Mugabe met with Mbeki during his visit to South Africa for a relative’s wedding early last month.

However, the trip was aborted when the leaders failed to secure a confirmation from Harare, diplomats said this week.

Mbeki’s spokesman Bheki Khumalo said yesterday he was not aware of the abortive meeting.

Mugabe last month went to Tanzania to attend Zanzibar’s independence anniversary celebrations. He later hosted Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa in Harare.

Mbeki, Mosisili and Nujoma currently comprise the troika of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, which deals with elections in the region. Mbeki is the chair.

Under Mosisili’s chairmanship, the organ is said to have engineered the Sadc principles governing democratic elections, which Zimbabwe is now struggling to comply with.

The principles were adopted during a Sadc summit at Grand Baie in Mauritius last August. The Sadc troika was tasked to visit Zimbabwe to assess whether or not it was complying with the election guidelines.

The guidelines urge member states to “establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies” to run elections.

They also encourage Sadc nations to safeguard freedoms of association, assembly, and expression as well as access to the public media by all political parties.

Member states are also required to take “all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging, or any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process”.

The Sadc principles have put Zimbabwe in the spotlight because of its skewed political landscape and profoundly flawed electoral process.

After the failure of the Sadc troika leaders to secure an appointment with Mugabe, Sadc then decided to send a technical team, including legal experts, to assess the situation.

However, the team has also had difficulty obtaining the green light to come to Zimbabwe. Sources said the team was expected to feature a pro-
minent South African lawyer, Kgomotso Ditsebe Moroka, who has
been honour-ed by Mbeki’s office for outstanding contributions in the “upliftment of society”.

South African Foreign Affairs director-general Ayanda Ntsaluba said last week the technical team was still awaiting clearance by Harare.

“Zimbabwe has not given clearance for the team and we are a bit concerned. However, they have in the past given us the assurance and there is no reason to believe that they will not be consistent now,” he said.

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