Zim issue set to take centre stage at Sadc summit

ZIMBABWE will dominate discussions at the Sadc summit in Windhoek, Namibia, next week with all three political principals of the inclusive government attending the meeting.

The discussions on the Zimbabwean crisis will be done at two levels, first by the Sadc troika on Politics, Defence and Security chaired by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza Guebuza on Sunday and then at the heads of state and government meetings on Monday and Tuesday.
Zimbabwe will also come under the spotlight when Sadc leaders discuss the legality of its tribunal. Former white commercial farmers won an order stopping the government from compulsorily acquiring their farms for purposes of resettlement under Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.
Government has refused to honour the tribunal ruling and has since pointed out that two-thirds of Sadc members were yet to ratify the protocol, creating the tribunal as per the requirements of the 1992 Sadc Treaty and norms of international law.
Meanwhile, the summit comes as Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC-M are in a state of confusion over which issues remain outstanding.
Diverse positions have emerged mainly between Zanu PF and MDC-T, which also differ from the agreed positions by the three political principals of the unity government.
Zanu PF’s party position is that there is only one outstanding issue —sanctions — which they are taking to the summit, while MDC-T is insisting that there are about 15 issues that they want the Sadc leaders to deliberate on. 
MDC-M says it was irresponsible and dishonest for political parties to declare positions when the three principals, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara have already agreed and written to the Sadc facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma, outlining areas of agreement and disagreement.
The three leaders on June 10 wrote to Zuma stating that they had agreed on many of the outstanding issues, except three which include the swearing-in of Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture minister, and the controversial appointments of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told the Zimbabwe Independent that the issues that MDC-T was raising were administrative, which he believes southern African leaders would not want to waste their time dwelling on.
“As far as we are concerned, there are no more outstanding issues and the only critical issue is that of sanctions. We have taken a common position in public but we differ privately. The issue of appointments is an administrative issue,” he said.
Gumbo added that: “It is an issue that cannot be taken to Sadc. They (MDC-T) are not talking of fundamental issues. Sadc leaders have their own administrative issues to deal with, while others have domestic challenges of their own and they would not want direct interference themselves.”
However, according to a report of negotiators to the principals, the issue of sanctions was agreed on and lobbying for their removal has started.
The three parties have set up a re-engagement committee chaired by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and has already opened dialogue with the European Union.
Regional Integration and International Co-operation Minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga of MDC-M, Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Elton Mangoma of MDC-T and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa of Zanu PF met with top EU officials in July in Brussels. The next meeting will be in Harare.
In addition as per the global political agreement, Tsvangirai has been to the EU, United States and Britain lobbying for the removal of sanctions, while Mugabe and Mutambara have also been calling for their lifting.
The United States congress has had hearings on the removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in 2001 over political repression.
Meanwhile, MDC-T also seems to be differing with its leader on the party position regarding the outstanding issues.
MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said there are at least 15 issues that they are taking to Sadc, which have been put into three categories.
This was also supported by MDC-T negotiator Elton Mangoma, who said the three categories were characterised as deadlocked, agreed but not implemented and emerging issues.
Chamisa said: “As MDC, we have very clear expectations –– the first one is the full implementation of the global political agreement and in this we need to make sure that the outstanding issues are laid to rest as a sure measure to ordain this inclusive government to credibility, legitimacy and bankability.”
He said the issues agreed on in principle but not implemented included media reforms, transforming the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holding into a true public broadcaster, the appointment of board members to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, ZBH and Zimbabwe Mass media Trust, national heroes, reform of the police, ministerial mandates, appointment of provincial governors and roll out programme for national healing.
In addition, Chamisa said his party wanted a framework of implementation for the agreed issues.
The deadlocked issues, he said were the swearing in of Bennett and appointments of Gono and Tomana.
The emerging issues, which Chamisa referred to as toxic or unilateral issues, were appointments without consultation of ambassadors, judges and boards and also Zanu PF jingles being aired on television and radio.
He said they also want violence to end and soldiers allegedly intimidating people in rural areas to be removed.
“We want these issues to be dealt with by Sadc as guarantors of the GPA,” he said adding that “we also want a roadmap or trajectory to a free and fair election. We want clear signposts such as electoral reforms, which would ensure we have a whole menu of reforms such as a fresh voters roll…
“We also want timeframes for elections to be agreed on at Sadc so that there is no ambush of each other. We also want Sadc to agree on a monitoring group to be permanently stationed six months before and six months after elections.”
However, MDC-M negotiator Misihairabwi-Mushonga said in a telephone interview from Shanghai in China discussions at Sadc would be solely based on the report given by the principals.
“The principals have an agreed position and the rest are just pubic posturing and positioning. I don’t think Sadc will want to turn themselves into a negotiating forum. This has never succeeded. Sadc will intervene on the basis of the principals report on which they have appended their signatures,” she said.

 

Faith Zaba

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