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How Mugabe was routed in Maputo

MORE details about the dramatic events at the extraordinary Sadc summit on Zimbabwe in Maputo, Mozambique, last Saturday where President Robert Mugabe was outmanoeuvred and humiliated by his coalition government partners and regional leaders have emerged.

Report by Owen Gagare

Sources who attended the summit said Mugabe was routed after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC leader Welshman Ncube, who joined forces, honed a strategically shrewd approach than his despite that he had lobbied Sadc chairman, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza and Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba for support before the meeting.

Mugabe arrived in Maputo on Friday evening and met Guebuza at his villa where he presented his case. On Saturday morning he had a long meeting with Pohamba, resulting in the summit scheduled to start at 10am only beginning around midday.

Namibian Foreign minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndatwah called ICT minister Nelson Chamisa accidentally thinking he was her counterpart Simbarashe Mumbengegwi before the meeting.

Guebuza opened the meeting and gave the floor to South African President Jacob Zuma, Sadc appointed facilitator on Zimbabwe.

Zuma began by reminding regional leaders the summit had been called to assess developments in Zimbabwe in the context of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and agreements reached between the three coalition government parties, effectively repudiating Mugabe’s earlier claims it was convened to discuss elections funding.

He spoke about the need for credible elections in an environment “free of intimidation and violence” to ensure the outcome is undisputed.

Zuma then informed regional leaders that the Constitutional Court (Concourt) of Zimbabwe had on May 31 ruled general elections be held by July 31.

He told them Mugabe on June 13 had issued a proclamation fixing July 31 as the date for elections and June 28 nomination of candidates. Mugabe, Zuma said, had invoked the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to bypass parliament to comply with the Concourt ruling.

Zuma also told Sadc leaders he had received a letter from five political parties, including the MDC formations, which listed a number of provisions of the new constitution that need to be brought into operation to ensure elections are free and fair.

The parties expressed concern at the practicality of the July 31 deadline. He then challenged regional leaders to take a position that would bring the parties together in order to minimise tensions, while carving a realistic elections roadmap.

Zuma also dealt with previous Sadc resolutions and made recommendations eventually incorporated into the communique.

Mugabe then took to the floor after Zuma and gave a historical narrative on Zimbabwe before coming into current issues, trying to justify hostile political statements by security service chiefs and also claiming he was a victim of hate speech by the media. Mugabe said Zimbabwe was ready for elections given the prevailing peace and stability.

He also said some people in the inclusive government were against polls as they were not elected in the first place. After Mugabe, Tsvangirai took to the podium and thanked the regional leaders for standing firm on Zimbabwe.

He complained about unilateral decisions made by Mugabe in the last four years, in particular the elections date proclamation and amendments to the Electoral Act which he said were unconstitutional.

He urged Sadc leaders to recall their pervious resolutions and insist on their implementation. After dealing with the political environment issues, Ncube was then given the stage to make a presentation dealing with legal issues. He systematically tore apart Mugabe’s case through structured legal arguments, showing how the president had acted unconstitutionally and illegally using powers of decree.

As emotions ran high, Botswana President Ian Khama proposed a lunch break. Mugabe was reportedly looking visibly ruffled. After the break Khama was given the floor and said he had listened to all the presentations and would make some remarks. He said he had sought the opinion of his Attorney-General on the Concourt ruling but would not delve into legal matters.

He then tore into Mugabe’s presentation, mainly on security forces, wondering why 33 years after the liberation struggle people were still talking about the “bush war” instead of focusing on problems affecting the people such as service delivery, unemployment, disease and poverty.

Khama moved a motion to adopt Zuma’s report as was. Guebuza then hit the table to indicate the adoption of the motion and Mugabe jokingly said: “that’s violent Mr chairman!”

To everyone’s surprise, Zambian Vice- President Guy Scott said Zuma’s report was very good. Scott has previously said South Africans are “backward” and equated Zuma to South Africa’s apartheid leader FW De Klerk. He also questioned Zuma’s handling of Zimbabwe’s political issues, saying he must leave them to Zambia.

Scott then suggested Zambia was concerned about the fate of the UNWTO general assembly given what is happening in Zimbabwe, indicating it could be moved to Botswana or South Africa.

Pohamba spoke after Scott, asking how Sadc was going to proceed given that Tsvangirai had indicated he would challenge Mugabe’s proclamation and amendments in court.

In reply, Tsvangirai said he had not made a court application, which actually failed by accident after the premier left with some signed copies, but merely indicated he wanted to do so.

Guebuza then asked if Mugabe had anything to say and he noted that he had no problem approaching the Concourt to seek an extension as suggested by Zuma, Tsvangirai and Ncube.

Guebuza hit the table again indicating Zuma’s report was unanimously adopted, amid another face-saving joke by Mugabe who said “That’s very violent Mr chairman!” Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Salomao took over to guide the process of drafting the communique.

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