Report by Wonai Masvingise
Zanu PF last night boycotted a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team.
The surprise development was seen by the two MDCs as evidence the party did not want to implement electoral reforms necessary for free and fair elections.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo declined to comment on his party’s position in relation to the visiting team, referring this reporter to Presidential spokesperson George Charamba and the Foreign Affairs ministry.
“I know nothing about that issue,” Gumbo said.
Charamba is Presidential spokesperson and does not speak for Zanu PF.
The party’s representatives in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) negotiations — which the South Africans are in Zimbabwe for — are Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa.
Efforts to contact both of them were fruitless as, although their phones were ringing, they were not being picked up.
MDC-T chief negotiator Tendai Biti confirmed his Zanu PF counterparts did not turn up for the meeting. He said the other parties were not entirely surprised by the move because it had become clear to them that Zanu PF was not interested in the negotiations anymore.
Biti said: “It has been clear to some of us that they (Zanu PF) are not interested in the facilitation team anymore.
“Because Zanu PF boycotted the meeting, there was no work done. It’s unacceptable for a party to boycott such meetings and now the facilitation team will have to sculpt a way forward.”
MDC deputy spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said Zanu PF was behaving in an irresponsible manner.
“The guilty are afraid. They know that they are guilty. They are known for changing goalposts. There is an agreed roadmap signed by the three parties. The MDC will keep on pressing for media reforms and security sector reforms before elections,” Chihwayi said.
“Sadc must rein in (President Robert) Mugabe for defying the regional body. As MDC, we want fair play and equal respect.”
Speaking before the facilitation team left South Africa yesterday, team spokesperson Lindiwe Zulu, who did not travel with the team, said their mission was to continue discussions on the electoral roadmap.
Senior Zanu PF officials are on record saying there would be no electoral, security, media or other reforms despite these being clearly stipulated in the GPA.
The party described negotiations over these as “a closed door”, “nonsensical” and that they would never be done.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is touring Sadc to lobby regional leaders to rein in Mugabe over his alleged intransigence on reforms, yesterday met Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who is also the chairperson of the Sadc Troika, and Angolan Foreign minister Georges Chicoti.
After meeting Tsvangirai, Kikwete is reported to have said: “As Sadc, we are very much interested in an election that is credible, free and fair.
We want Zimbabweans to exercise their unfettered right to choose a leader of their choice.”
Tsvangirai said the calls for peace by the Zanu PF leadership and their actions on the ground, in particular with reference to the voters’ roll, were increasingly pointing to a hidden strategy of hoodwinking the region, the international community and the Zimbabwean electorate.
He said it had become apparent that Zanu PF was not committed to a peaceful, free and fair election. He said the party’s actions showed it was, in fact committed to, and was planning for an ostensibly peaceful, but rigged election.