Mbeki lied to Sadc: MDC

THE two MDC factions yesterday accused South African President Thabo Mbeki of misrepresenting facts to Sadc heads of state when he said that their talks with Zanu PF had been concluded and that only procedural issues were outstanding.

In a statement, the formations’ secretary-generals Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube said the talks reached a deadlock after Zanu PF reneged on the issues of the date of the elections, the timeframe for the implementation of the agreed reforms, and the manner of making and enactment of a new constitution.

The formations said contrary to Mbeki’s suggestion that these were peripheral matters of procedures outstanding in the dialogue, there were in fact issues of “substance that went into the heart of the matter”.

They said the unilateral proclamation of the election date on January 25 by President Robert Mugabe amounted to a Zanu PF repudiation of the Sadc dialogue which “sadly and regrettably failed to achieve its intended purpose”.

“As far as the date of the election was concerned, it was always the firm view of the MDC that this date would be determined only at the time that agreement on every substantive aspect of the agreement had been reached,” the MDC formations said.

The opposition formations say they will participate in the March 29 elections under protest.

“The MDC’s participation is not different from its participation under protest and ‘with heavy heart’ as in previous elections. In the circumstances, we hold the firm view that the 2008 elections which are being held under the same conditions as previous disputed elections cannot by any stretch of the imagination yield a legitimate outcome,” the MDC said.

The MDC formations said outstanding matters included transitional issues, which would have gone into the draft constitution as the sixth schedule covering voter registration, delimitation of constituencies, the reconstitution of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the diaspora vote.

The issues also included the role of Sadc in monitoring and enforcing the agreements, and the period and manner of implementation of the legislative and political agreement.

On the question of a new constitution, the parties had agreed on June 18 last year that they would negotiate a holistic supreme law which was to be debated in parliament before a final draft which would be adopted and enacted before the next election.

The MDC formations said the failure of the dialogue is a catastrophe for both the people of Zimbabwe and the Sadc region.

However, during debate on the amendments to Posa and Aippa in parliament last year, the MDC and Zanu PF indicated they were close to agreement on all major issues at the talks. Representing Zanu PF, Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa told the House on December 18 that “97% of the work” had been done while Biti put the figure at 30%.

Biti is quoted in the Hansard of December 18 as saying while “Chinamasa said we have done 97% of the work … I would probably say we have done at least a third of the work but that work we have done is very important. We are very close to reaching a matrix; we can say we have concluded these talks.”

Biti added: “It is a question of degree but we are very close. In other words there is a great opportunity for Zimbabwe to have a fresh beginning in this dialogue.” — Staff Writer.