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Crunch time for Mugabe


President Robert Mugabe’s resolve to have general elections this year will undergo its first major test today when the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Organ for Defence, Politics and Security meets to discuss Zimbabwe’s political situation in Angola.

Sadc invited principals in the inclusive government for the meeting of the Organ, also known as the Troika, ahead of a meeting of heads of state and government at the weekend.

MDC leader Welshman Ncube has also been invited to the crucial meeting.

The discussions with members of the Troika, made up of Namibia, Mozambique and Angola, will probably be the first time Sadc has called a meeting to consider Zimbabwe’s election roadmap.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who this week dispatched his facilitation team to Harare, is expected to update the Troika on progress in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Mugabe last week dispatched his top lieutenants to regional countries to lobby for the polls. Sadc is the guarantor of the GPA and would have a say on the timing of the next elections.

The two MDC formations yesterday said they would impress on the regional bloc to reject Mugabe’s push for elections until he agrees to major reforms.

Ncube said it was important to note that Zimbabwe became part of the agenda because of Zanu PF’s determination to force elections before adoption of agreed electoral reforms.

“Zimbabwe is on the agenda because Mugabe sent envoys to Sadc countries seeking that the regional body passes a resolution authorising Zimbabwe to hold elections without a new constitution,” the Industry and Commerce minister said.

“That is the only reason why Zimbabwe is on the agenda.

“My expectation is for the summit to reject that request — full stop.”

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora echoed Ncube’s sentiments, saying the Troika and other regional leaders must prevail on Mugabe.

“Sadc must resist calls for elections without key reforms,” he said.

“They must prevail over Mugabe to end all State-sponsored violence. Sadc must also insist on the completion of the constitution-making process and must denounce or censure Zanu PF’s attempts at derailing the constitution-making process.”

Mwonzora said whatever resolution Sadc would come up with, even not legally binding, it would be “binding in honour” as “Zimbabwe had somehow submitted to the jurisdiction of Sadc”.

But Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo insisted his party would continue pushing for early elections.

“We wish the Sadc Troika success and for it to help the South African facilitation team in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“We don’t know what the outcome would be, but our position is clear: we want the elections. It is the position of the party.”

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was yesterday forced to cut short his week-long official visit to China to attend the Luanda meeting.

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