SOUTHERN Africa Development Community (Sadc) regional leaders, guarantors of the Global Political Agreement, (GPA) which gave birth to the country’s shaky inclusive government forced President Robert Mugabe to postpone presidential, parliamentary and local government elections at a dramatic summit in Maputo, Mozambique, on Saturday.
This followed Mugabe’s unilateral proclamation last week of the election date as July 31.
Mugabe, however, was obliged to back down by his fellow Sadc leaders who accepted the argument of the two MDC leaders Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube that the date was too soon to hold a proper poll.
Report of the Sadc facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma, at the Sadc Extraordinary Summit, Maputo, Mozambique, 15 June 2013.
At the meeting of Sadc Heads of State held in Addis Ababa on 26 May 2013, we agreed to convene this Sadc Extraordinary Summit, in order to assess developments in Zimbabwe in the context of the GPA and the agreements reached between the three parties in pursuance thereof.
We welcomed the enactment of the new Constitution on May 22 2013 as a significant development that paved the way to the holding of free and fair elections.
The commitment made in the GPA is to assure the citizens of Zimbabwe that such elections shall be held under conditions where all parties shall participate freely, on equal footing, in an environment free of intimidation and violence; that this is necessary in order to bring into being the next government which shall enjoy undisputed credibility.
Since our summit in Addis Ababa, there have been a number of developments that impact on Zimbabwe’s path to the elections:
On 31 May 2013, the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe, constituted in terms of the new Constitution, ruled that forthcoming harmonised elections should be held on or before 31 July 2013
- l On 13 June 2013, President Robert Mugabe issued a Proclamation fixing 31 July 2013 as the date for harmonised Presidential, Parliamentary and local government elections, and fixing 28 June 2013 as the date for the sitting of the Nomination Court
l President Mugabe is of the view that he had no other option but to invoke the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act and thereby bypass the current Parliament in order to confirm the decision of the Constitutional Court. The same powers were invoked to promulgate electoral regulations on 14 June 2013
l In a letter dated 7 June 2013 and addressed to me in my capacity as facilitator, I was advised by five political parties that came together to assess the implications of the Constitutional Court judgment and to review the country’s preparedness to hold the elections
The five political parties consist of the MDC-T led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangari, the MDC led by Minister Welshman Ncube (both of which parties are signatories to the GPA), and Dumiso Dabengwa, President of Zapu, Simba Makoni, President of MKD, and Reketai Semwayo, the Chairperson of Zanu-Ndonga.
They list a number of provisions of the new Constitution that need to be brought into operation so as to ensure that there is a climate for free and fair elections, and conclude that:
“Considering what still needs to be done to create conditions for free and fair elections, and a level playing field for the campaign period, we are concerned with the practicality of the 31 July 2013 deadline as set out by our Constitutional Court”.
lOn 13 June 2013, the MDC-T president announced that he had instructed his attorneys to file an urgent court application challenging the date of 31 July 2013 set by President Mugabe for elections.
In light of the above developments, the proposal to hold the elections on 31 July 2013 is fraught with legal contestation, political dispute and heightened tensions even within the Inclusive Government.
The challenge that we at this summit face is to take up a position that will bring the parties together in order to minimise these tensions and carve out a roadmap that is realistic, that meets the concerns of different parties and reassures the citizens of Zimbabwe through a process of accommodation.
On 6 July 2011 the negotiators of the three parties to the GPA signed off the “Zimbabwe Elections Roadmap with Timelines”. This agreement was submitted by the facilitator to the Sadc Heads of State Summit held in Sandton on 11-12 July, on the basis that the three Principals had agreed to the roadmap. (Annexure “C”)
The above agreement has been the basis on which progress, including the adoption of the new Constitution, has occurred since then.
Regrettably, most of the items that were agreed upon by the parties which affected the levelling of the playing field and ensuring that these agreements, including the proper functioning of Jomic as required by the GPA in Article XXII, have not been adequately implemented.
The above Roadmap and the agreements that are contained in it were a critical component of the way forward.
Credible elections will have to be held soon in Zimbabwe. On 6 June 2013, my facilitation team held a day-long meeting with negotiators of the three parties to the GPA.
Together they reviewed the entire roadmap and explored possibilities of a number of ad-hoc measures that would enable the elections to take place under appropriate conditions and so soon as possible.
Having regard to those discussions and taking into account subsequent developments, I would request Sadc to urge the three parties to the GPA to consider the following immediate measures as a means to defuse the rising tensions and contestations, and to make Zimbabweans have confidence in the forthcoming elections:
- Media reforms
This is a major area of disagreement amongst the three parties, particularly around the implementation of the agreements that were reached in July 2011.
It is essential that the playing field in the media arena should be conducive to free and fair elections.
Even if the agreement reached in 2011 were to be implemented immediately, eg the appointment of the new Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, it would take time for the institutions to conform in practice to the requirements of impartiality.
Having regard to the limited time available, I would propose the creation of an Inter-Ministerial Committee drawn from the three parties to the GPA and from within Cabinet with sufficient powers to intervene in order to curb hate speech and calls for regime change, from whatever quarter, including external radio stations.
It would also be the task of such a mechanism to intervene with State media to ensure that they maintain an impartial stance.
- Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic)
Jomic, reinforced per decision of the Sadc Organ Troika Summit held in Livingstone on 30 March 2011, should be brought into full- scale activity in order to ensure that there is no intimidation and violence, that the rule of law is maintained, and that the requirements of the GPA are adhered to.
In this regard, Zanu PF is of the view that the Facilitation Team reinforced by the representatives from the Troika countries should not participate in Jomic meetings. Rather they should receive reports from the co-chairs.
MDC-T and MDC believe that they should be part of the Jomic processes on the understanding that they would not be party to the decision-making.
The two MDC formations urge that Sadc should reaffirm the terms of reference that it had developed which would allow for the facilitation team and the representatives of the Troika to participate on these terms.
I propose that Sadc reaffirm this decision and calls all parties to conform to the decision.
- Rule of law
Section 208 of the new Constitution is explicit on the role of the security forces, whose members are prohibited from acting in a partisan manner, furthering the interests of any political party or cause, prejudicing the lawful interest of any political party or cause, or violating the fundamental rights of any person. They are also prohibited from being active members or office bearers of any political party.
There have been concerns about the adherence of security forces to these requirements.
The meeting of 6 June 2013 accepted that need for a public commitment by the security forces who have made partisan political statements in public.
It would be appropriate and necessary that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the security forces draws the attention of the heads of the security forces, their members, as well as the public of Zimbabwe that Section 208 of the new Constitution henceforth governs their actions.
It is important that this is done publicly so that members of the security forces as well as the public are made aware of these requirements.
It would also be helpful if certain legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Broadcasting Services Act, among others, are aligned to the requirements of the new Constitution.
MDC-T has submitted a set of amendments to most of these laws. We would urge that these be considered.
At the same time we are mindful that Parliament ceases to exist on 29 June 2013, but we are of the view that the suspension of certain clauses, in particular legislations, could be affected before Parliament dissolves.
- The election date, the validity of the electoral regulations and other issues
It would not be helpful for all these issues to remain contentious issues which are requiring resolutions in the courtrooms. It would be more constructive if the three parties with the assistance of the facilitators and support of Sadc, quickly resolve these matters with due regard to the practical realities and to the rule of law.
It would then be more possible to make an intervention with the courts in order to make necessary adjustments.
- Deployment of Sadc observers
This matter is being attended to by the Executive Director of Sadc. We should note, however, that the two MDC formations have called for the early deployment of the observers.
We are confident that this matter will be resolved through the Sadc Secretariat and in the best interest of the process.
I thank you!