South Africa’s Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday urged President Jacob Zuma to pile pressure on Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) to block early elections in Zimbabwe until key democratic reforms were implemented.
DA’s parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said South Africa should “play a central role in taking a decisive stand against ongoing political repression in Zimbabwe as reports of intimidation, violence and voter fraud continue”.
“Zuma, as Sadc-appointed mediator to Zimbabwe, must encourage the regional bloc to use the mechanisms at its disposal to ensure that elections do not go ahead until key democratic reforms have been made,” said Trollip.
In reference to last Friday’s arrest of MDC-T secretary for international relations Jameson Timba who is also minister of State in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Office, Trollip said indications were Zimbabwe was far from being ready to hold elections.
“These are not the actions of a regime that is keen to embrace democratic reform, nor is this the behaviour of a State that is ready to hold free and fair elections,” said Trollip.
This comes against calls for early polls by President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.
But, his main rival Tsvangirai wants polls only after constitutional and political reforms were undertaken first. Tsvangirai also wants the Sadc to support elections no earlier than 2012.
President Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, but inconclusive elections three years ago forced him into a unity government with Tsvangirai.
Their shaky alliance was meant to be a transitional government to oversee the drafting of a more democratic constitution which would pave the way towards elections and avoid a repeat of the 2008 vote marred by violence.
Trollip added President Mugabe’s attempts to undermine political progress in the country should be decisively addressed by the appropriate Sadc structures.
South African mediators last month publicly raised concern over President Mugabe’s health and the succession debate, following reports of he had had surgery in Singapore early this year.