President Robert Mugabe this week dispatched top ministers to several Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member states with special messages to their leaders amid speculation he is courting their support for elections he wants held this year.
Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa met Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos in Luanda yesterday to deliver an undisclosed message from Mugabe.
On Tuesday, State Security minister Sydney Sekeramayi had met Zambian President Michael Sata to deliver another message from the
Zanu PF leader.
Dos Santos is the current chairperson of Sadc and the regional bloc is poised to have a big say on when Zimbabwe would hold its next elections. The Angolan government refused to disclose the contents of the message after Dos Santos and Mnangagwa’s meeting.
There were unconfirmed reports that Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and his Home Affairs counterpart Kembo Mohadi as well as Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo had also been dispatched to other Sadc countries.
Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba yesterday said he could not comment on the reported diplomatic push by Mugabe’s envoys because he was at a funeral in Buhera.
But sources said the 88-year-old leader had briefed his peers about his plans for elections with or without a new constitution.
The revelations coincided with calls by visiting United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay yesterday for Mugabe to ensure free and fair elections.
Pillay, who met the veteran ruler at State House for more than an hour, said she stressed the need to prevent a recurrence of the 2008 situation where hundreds of opposition supporters were allegedly murdered ahead of the ill-fated presidential run-off poll. “I urged him to ensure that future elections are free and fair,” she said.
Pillay said she also praised Mugabe for this year’s Independence Day speech where he called for an end to political violence but also urged him to sustain the campaign.
“It was a very important meeting in which President Mugabe accounted to me the history of Zimbabwe and attributed some of the current problems to the past,” she said.
“I commended the President’s call that there should be no violence in future elections. I urged him to continue making such calls.”
Pillay is expected to meet diplomats and Defence minister Mnangagwa today before addressing the media tomorrow to conclude her five-day working visit to Zimbabwe.
Sadc, through South African President Jacob Zuma — the regional bloc’s mediator for Zimbabwe — has maintained that elections can only be arranged after acceptable reforms are put in place.
Experts say a new constitution is still a long way off because of the haggling by the three parties in the inclusive government.
Zuma on Tuesday told the South African parliament that he was anxious to see a resolution to the Zimbabwe crisis.
“Our wish is to resolve the Zimbabwe problem,” he said. “The quicker we do it, the better and we are working hard to do so.”
He was responding to a question by opposition Inkatha Freedom Party’s Ben Skosana who wanted to know South Africa’s position on the recent stance by the European Union (EU) that the inclusive government must justify its calls for the lifting of targeted sanctions.
The EU, in a meeting with Zimbabwe’s ministerial re-engagement committee in Brussels early this month, said it would reconsider a review of the sanctions at its July meeting.
Zuma said the demands by the EU were complicating the problems in Zimbabwe, suggesting African countries must take the lead instead.