SA rejects Mugabe bid

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Relations between President Robert Mugabe and South African leader Jacob Zuma could be further strained after the regions economic powerhouse yesterday said it would not accept the holding of fresh polls in Zimbabwe without agreed political reforms envisaged in the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Mugabe is adamant that elections to terminate the wobbly inclusive government should take place before year-end with or without a new constitution that would lay out the foundation for free and fair polls.

His arch rival, MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has insisted he would only contest in elections after the enactment of a new constitution, which captures legislative, electoral, media and security sector reforms.

Speaking in the South African Parliament yesterday, that countrys Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was unequivocal that Zimbabwe should fully consummate the GPA.

Anything short of it, she emphasised, would not be accepted by South Africa.

She said a new constitution approved through a plebiscite, was a prerequisite to elections in the southern African country which has battled over the past decade to end a political crisis that almost triggered an economic implosion in 2009.

The GPA envisages that an election in Zimbabwe will only be held following the finalisation of the constitution-making process, Nkoana-Mashabane said in the SA Parliament. (A committee) is drafting a new constitution, after which a referendum and then elections should be held.

Our government, therefore, expects that there would be no deviation from the provisions of the GPA.

Political analysts say the stance would upset Mugabe who recently said Zanu PF had the prerogative to ask Sadc to remove Zuma as the regional blocs appointed facilitator of the Zimbabwe crisis.

In a recent interview with state-controlled media to mark his 88th birthday, the veteran leader, who has been in power since 1980, said he had confronted Zuma during the Sadc Livingstone Summit in March 2011 over his mediation role.

Zuma had tabled a damning report on the Zimbabwe situation showing that Mugabe and Zanu PF were intransigent in the implementation of the GPA.

Mugabe also came under intense criticism from fellow heads of state and government in Angola in August last year.But Mugabe has in the past year insisted on holding fresh elections without the full implementation of the GPA.

Key reforms that have been a source of conflict in the inclusive government include those of the media, electoral laws and the ongoing constitution-making process.

Last week, Tsvangirai told delegates attending the Zimbabwe Investment Conference in Gauteng, South Africa, that though there had been some movement in the restoration of political stability since the formation of the inclusive government in February 2009, the country was slowly sliding back to anarchy.

But over the last few months, there has been a lot of mixed messages and hype arising out of misplaced election talk. The date for the next election in Zimbabwe is process-driven, said Tsvangirai.

Only after we complete the constitution-making process and we implement the key political, electoral and media reforms as agreed under the facilitation of Sadc will the President and I sit down and agree on the date for the next election.

That is what we agreed at the inception of this inclusive government and only after the implementation of these reforms can we have a free, fair and credible election that does not produce another contested outcome.

Only a free and fair election will lead to a credible and legitimate government with a coherent policy that can guarantee policy consistency and policy predictability.