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Comment: EU-Zuma meeting must find solutions


South African President Jacob Zuma is expected to meet a team from the European Union (EU) next week to expedite a solution to Zimbabwe’s political problems.

Zuma will meet Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, next Tuesday in Brussels.

We believe that the meeting is timely in that, only a month ago, Zuma told a Sadc summit in Namibia he would resolve all outstanding issues within one month. Surprisingly, nothing has been resolved so far.

The EU leaders are expected to take the Sadc-appointed mediator to task on the slow progress of resolving outstanding issues.

There should be ways and means to end the dispute between principals to the GPA, as there are only three major issues outstanding: the swearing-in of Roy Bennett as Deputy Minister of Agriculture and the appointments of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono.

When the MDC-T raised the issue of the appointment of provincial governors as a concern in the inclusive government, accusing Zanu PF of shifting goalposts on the agreed position, Zanu PF hit back with the issue of sanctions.

They say they will comply fully with the GPA once sanctions imposed by the West and its allies are scrapped.

We believe that the meeting is important for Zimbabwe in that it will try to find a way out of the present political crisis.

We applaud the latest move since it comes as the political problems in Zimbabwe escalated after violence — blamed by the MDC-T on Zanu PF supporters — forced the cancellation of constitution-making outreach meetings in urban areas.

At least one MDC-T supporter was killed after violence swept through Harare’s oldest township of Mbare. The violence spread into other suburbs in the capital.

Yet President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai have reportedly agreed to hold an election next year.

Apart from Harare, we gather that 23 outreach meetings were aborted in Manicaland; in Nyanga, Chimanimani and Chipinge districts.

The violence has raised doubts over whether the country is ready to hold a free and fair election.

We believe Zuma owes it to the international community to explain how he is handling the Zimbabwe issue.

He is, after all, the chief facilitator and guarantor of the GPA process.

Therefore the meeting, coming hot on the heels of a re-engagement meeting between Zimbabwe and the United States, is an important one.

Zimbabwe is part of the global community, hence whatever happens locally affects its neighbours and friends alike.

We believe the SA-EU summit will help the bloc understand the Zimbabwe problem better. In particular we would want to see the media opened up to a wider spectrum of voices.

At present, the public media which is supposed to serve society as a whole, is captive to a coterie of President Mugabe’s supporters.

The EU leaders are likely to ask some tough questions while Zuma will act in defence of Zimbabwe’s leaders. Let’s hope they can all find some common ground.

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