Little is expected from the Sadc summit in Luanda, Angola, after it emerged yesterday negotiators from the parties in the inclusive government failed to agree on key issues that could lead to free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
Negotiators from Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC met in Johannesburg on Saturday with South African facilitators, but reportedly failed to agree on sticking issues, stoking fears the Luanda meeting could just be a waste of time.
Sadc leaders gather tomorrow in Luanda for the regional bloc’s annual summit, where Zimbabwe’s protracted political crisis looks set to top the agenda.
But, Sadc facilitator South African President Jacob Zuma’s international relations advisor Lindiwe Zulu yesterday refused to comment on the outcome of their meeting with negotiators.
“We met the negotiators on Saturday in Johannesburg. Unfortunately, we cannot make comments and we have to make a report to the principals,” Zulu told NewsDay.
However, sources said there was progress on some peripheral issues like timelines, the constitution-making process and voter registration. “These are cosmetic issues which cannot guarantee a free and fair poll and a smooth transfer of political power in the event of an MDC victory,” said one insider.
“They are not the real issues. They (the negotiators) have not agreed on core issues that will lead to a free and fair poll. We do not want a repeat of what happened in 2008.”
Another source said there were dangers, gains from the Livingstone and Sandton gatherings were likely to be eroded in Luanda.
“Little is expected from Sadc (and) there is now a real danger of retarding the gains made in Livingstone and Sandton,” said the source.
The sources yesterday said the parties had agreed on superficial issues which would not guarantee a free and fair poll and a smooth transfer of power in the event of a Zanu PF defeat.
The sources said there were last-minute efforts yesterday by Zuma to bridge the gap between the feuding parties although nothing was likely to be achieved before Luanda.
The sources said contentious issues such as security sector reform, re-staffing of key positions at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and escalating politically-motivated violence remained unresolved.
President Robert Mugabe has made it clear he would not allow anybody to “meddle” with the security sector.The other central issue was the deployment of monitors from Sadc, the African Union and the international community, to observe the political environment in the country, months before elections are organised.