Kikwete snubs Zim lobby group

Wongai Zhangazha
A CIVIL society delegation lobbying for a tougher stance against President Robert Mugabe for his refusal to implement agreed reforms ahead of next week’s Sadc summit in Maputo was given a last minute snub by President Jakaya Kikwete’s officials.
Tanzania takes over chairmanship of the Sadc Troika on Politics, Defence and Security at the summit and the delegation representing eight Zimbabwean civil society groups was hoping to secure a meeting with Kikwete’s top officials to lobby for their position to be raised at the meeting.
The delegation held meetings with Tanzanian non-governmental organisations, the media and the main opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo, but came a cropper when it sought a meeting with government officials.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director MacDonald Lewanika, part of the delegation, said they had failed to meet government because they sent their request late.
“The downside of the meetings was partly our fault because we failed to tell government officials in time,” said Lewanika. “However, we are still to meet government officials tomorrow (yesterday). We are having meetings with the Tanzanian ambassador and other ambassadors from the region.”
Lewanika said the delegation told Tanzania MPs and NGOs that Zimbabwe’s reform process was being stalled by lack of sincerity  on the part of Zanu PF in the engagement process.
He said they also urged Tanzania to push for Zimbabwe to abide by the recent Supreme Court ruling that by-elections be held in vacant constituencies.
Meanwhile, regional civil society organisations met in Maputo this week ahead of the summit lobbying the Sadc Tribunal to keep its human rights mandate.
The meetings were organised by the Sadc Council of Non-Governmental Organisations, the Southern Africa Trade Union Co-ordination Council, the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa, and the 8th Southern Africa Civil Society Forum.
The organisations raised fears that Sadc leaders may decide to strip the tribunal of its rights jurisdiction, striking a “serious blow to citizens of the region and to hopes for economic growth and development”.
Zimbabwe is opposed to the Sadc Tribunal after it ruled in favour of 78 former white commercial farmers whose land was compulsorily expropriated during the chaotic land reform programme.