THE SOUTHERN African Development Community (Sadc) will next Thursday dispatch to Harare a fact-finding ministerial team — drawn from countries represented on the regional bloc’s organ on politics, defence and security cooperation — to deal with the Zimbabwean political situation.
The move would mark Sadc’s intervention in Zimbabwe’s political crisis following the partial withdrawal from government by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last week.
Diplomatic sources said the Sadc organ on politics, defence and security cooperation chair, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, told Tsvangirai on Tuesday when they met in Chimoio that a ministerial team would visit Harare on Thursday to kick-start a regional mediation process to sort out the current situation.
The team would comprise ministers from Zambia, Swaziland and Mozambique.
Tsvangirai also met Sadc chair, DRC President Joseph Kabila, yesterday in Kinshasa and would be meeting Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos in Luanda today for further talks on Zimbabwe with regional leaders.
James Maridadi, Tsvangirai’s spokesman, yesterday confirmed the meeting.
“The prime minister has just met with President Kabila to discuss the Zimbabwe situation,” he said. “He appraised him on the current events in Zimbabwe and President Kabila made a commitment to treat the issue as an urgent matter. He will engage with his Sadc colleagues, particularly President Guebuza on the way forward.”
Sources said all necessary arrangements for next week’s meetings have already been made by the Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Salomao who has been seized with the issues since last week. Salomao visited Zimbabwe last weekend for talks with the political leadership, including President Robert Mugabe, to lay the ground for Sadc intervention.
Salomao also attended the Chimoio meeting and was frantically trying to hold talks with South African President Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwe mediator Thabo Mbeki to brief them on the outcome of the Chimoio meeting. Sources said Mbeki remains the mediator in Zimbabwe and might soon visit the country if the current political deadlock remains.
Salomao has indicated Zimbabwe’s problems must be primarily resolved by the country’s fighting political principals, a view shared by Mbeki and some Sadc leaders. Smaller MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara has been trying to broker a meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai which is expected to take place anytime now.
Prior to meeting Kabila yesterday, Tsvangirai met Zuma on Wednesday in Cape Town for talks. Maridadi confirmed all the meetings. A statement issued by Zuma’s office said the South Africa leader had “expressed concern at the situation in Zimbabwe” and said “Zimbabwe should not be allowed to slide back into instability”.
Zuma, who relinquished the Sadc chairmanship last month, remains influential in the regional bloc since South Africa remains part of the Sadc summit troika which also includes the DRC and Namibia. The summit troika is different from the Sadc organ on politics, defence and security troika which has Mozambique, Zambia and Swaziland as its members.
Tsvangirai and the MDC partly pulled out of government — via a boycott of cabinet and the council of ministers — citing Mugabe and Zanu PF’s refusal to fully implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and a series of outstanding issues.
Mugabe’s press secretary George Charamba has dismissed the MDC boycott as “monkey business” — a move “full of sound and fury signifying nothing”.
However, MDC deputy Information minister Jameson Timba said Charamba’s remarks reflected his “political naivety”.
“If it’s a non-event why is he talking about it? It shows his political naivety,” Timba said. “Charamba is a civil servant who should not dabble in issues that don’t concern him.”