Regional leaders will on Saturday gather in South Africa to push Zimbabwe’s political rivals, President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, to adopt an election roadmap guaranteeing free and fair elections.
They will likely restrain President Mugabe and PM Tsvangirai from hurrying to hold a fresh vote without critical reforms having taken place.
It is a fact that the Sadc bloc has developed fatigue over Harare’s political problems and would have preferred a quick election, but it is afraid that without reforms, Zimbabwe’s crisis would continue to blight the region.
The 87-year-old Zanu PF leader and his party are pushing hard for elections this year, driven mostly by a need to have the President contest the elections before his health deteriorates further.
Sadc, like the majority of Zimbabweans, is very keen to see Zimbabwe’s leadership fully implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
South African President Jacob Zuma should impress upon the Summit to adopt the election roadmap.
Zuma will present the Livingstone Summit report and the election roadmap for adoption by the full Sadc Summit and push the two protagonists to fully implement their power-sharing pact.
Besides, the summit is coming at a time tension between Zanu PF and the two MDCs has escalated following the alleged killing of a police inspector, Petros Mutedza, and an attempt on MDC-T negotiator and secretary-general Tendai Biti’s life, after a bomb was thrown at his official residence in Harare.
The attack and a general crackdown on MDC supporters have all increased tensions in the already fractious inclusive government.
The parties to the GPA will hope their positions are supported by the Sadc Summit.
President Mugabe hopes to use the summit to recover from diplomatic setbacks on issues ranging from election timing to political violence and wide-ranging reform.
On the other hand, Tsvangirai is hoping Sadc will ratify the findings and recommendations of the Livingstone Troika Summit.
Both Zanu PF and MDC-T have been lobbying intensively in the run-up to the summit.
Zimbabweans will be waiting with bated breath for a negotiated settlement to the country’s political crises as they believe Pretoria is aware of those developments.
We call on the power-sharing parties to make a greater effort to clamp down on political violence using existing mechanisms than to continually fight.
There is no reason for any of the two parties to prepare the so-called dossiers portraying each other as violent when they can deal with this bickering.
While the two parties continue wrangling, Zanu PF appears to have shot itself in the foot by criticising Zuma and suggesting he was using information from MDC-T to come up with his reports.
It is naïve for the former ruling party to throw brickbats at its neighbour because it has failed to win support for its position.