Zuma drafting Zimbabwe poll roadmap

SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma is drafting a roadmap to Zimbabwe’s elections to be presented at an extraordinary meeting of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security next month.

The roadmap, according to diplomatic sources, would be modelled along the lines of the regional bloc’s Mauritius principles and guidelines governing democratic elections to ensure free and fair polls as and when they are held and will be the trajectory to end the marriage of convenience between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s inclusive government.

The diplomats  said  the roadmap would also contain mechanisms for the transfer of power.

 

Mugabe is pushing for elections mid-next year. Tsvangirai also wants elections, but insists on democratic reforms before they are held.

The MDC-T alleges that Zanu PF has already deployed state security agents, the youth militia and war veterans into the countryside to intimidate the electorate ahead of the anticipated polls next year.

International Affairs advisor to Zuma, Lindiwe Zulu, confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday that the Sadc-appointed facilitator to the Zimbabwe political crisis was now spearheading the process of drafting the roadmap.

Initially Zuma had tasked the six inter-party negotiators to draft the roadmap, but because of escalating political bickering among the three parties in the inclusive government he has taken over the process.

Zulu said: “President Zuma is indeed working on the roadmap as agreed upon in the last meeting of Sadc. We will work on the roadmap, but we will, however, do it together with the principals of the GPA and the negotiators.

“We started working on it immediately after the meeting and the roadmap will be tabled in the next Sadc Troika meeting which will be held soon, but I am not sure of the dates.”

She also could not say where the meeting would be held.

Zulu said Zuma had already crafted into the roadmap basic Sadc procedures on the principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.

“There are certain principlesthat Sadc would expect for any country to go into an election and these are basics of holding elections that create a conducive environment for people to vote freely and fairly without any fear,” she added.

According to the 2004 Grand Baie guidelines, there has to be full participation of citizens in the political process, freedom of association, political tolerance and equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media.

There should also be equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for, independence of the judiciary, and impartiality of the electoral institutions and acceptance and respect of the election results by political parties proclaimed to have been free and fair by the competent national electoral authorities.

Last month Zuma said he would not support an election in Zimbabwe that is flawed with violence, intimidation and a suppressed media environment.
He wanted to see a favourable environment for free and fair elections before the polls are held.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai have publicly announced their intention to hold polls next year, while the business community and ordinary Zimbabweans want an extension of the inclusive government to allow for economic recovery and national healing.

Zulu on Wednesday said: “President Zuma is not working alone in this roadmap. He will be working with the negotiators of the principals’ signatory to the GPA. We are expected to come and discuss with them on the progress made and also them telling us the progress they would have made and we combine our ideas.

“The roadmap would be for Zimbabweans so they will be also contributing a lot into it. We are not sure when we will be in the country for the discussions, but it will be as soon as it is necessary to come there.”

Zulu said Zuma was not bothered by US State Department cables leaked by WikiLeaks in which Mugabe allegedly described him as a populist in a meeting with former United States ambassador James McGee and US Democratic Congressman Donald Payne at State House on May 30 2009.

The whistleblower website said Mugabe regarded Zuma as a “man of the people who likes to make promises without necessarily knowing how to fulfill them”. Zulu said: “The relationship between the principals and President Zuma has been good and in their discussions the principals have been very frank. We don’t want to be engaging ourselves with the WikiLeaks because we have our own foreign policy and agenda as South Africa.

“President Zuma is not bothered by the WikiLeaks because at the end of the day he is in a good relationship with President Mugabe. WikiLeaks are not our issue. We don’t want to be diverted by WikiLeaks as we have serious issues on the table.”

Zulu, who is one of Zuma’s facilitators of the endless talks, said the South African leader was disappointed at the lack of progress in resolving outstanding issues by the three principals and hoped that they would resolve their differences before the elections.

“As far as talks are concerned there is nothing new. The three principals need to stick to their words and implement the decisions they made.

President Zuma expects them to implement them immediately for the benefit of moving on and some of the issues are also part of the roadmap,” she said.

After the Sadc summit in Windhoek in August the three principals were expected to implement 24 issues they agreed on within periods varying from one month to two months.

These issues include media reforms, external radio stations, a land audit and ministerial mandates.

Also due for implementation were the National Economic Council, constitutional commissions, national heroes, rule of law, state security organs and institutions, cabinet and council of ministers’ rules, Constitutional Amendment No 19, electoral amendments and sanctions.

However, the principals deadlocked with Zanu PF saying implementation has to be done simultaneously with the removal of sanctions.

Wongai Zhangazha