THE South African Development Community (Sadc) has been
hailed for stamping its foot down and stopping Zanu PF from
stampeding the country into elections without conditions for credible polls.
DUMISANI SIBANDA/MOSES MATENGA
At a special summit held on Saturday in Maputo, Mozambique, Sadc directed government to go back to the Constitutional Court to ask for an extension from the July 31 deadline it set for elections.
President Robert Mugabe last week unilaterally declared July 31 as the date for harmonised election, sparking an outcry from other political parties.
The two MDC formations in the inclusive government, Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn, Zapu and Zanu Ndonga came together and condemned the move by Mugabe who also unilaterally gazetted amendments to the Electoral Act to realign it to the new Constitution using temporary presidential powers.
In a communiqué, Sadc said: “Summit acknowledged the ruling of the Constitutional Court on the election dates and agreed on the need for the government of Zimbabwe to engage the Constitutional Court to seek more time beyond July 31 deadline for the holding of harmonised elections”
Sadc also said there was need for media reforms, upholding the rule of law and wants its officials to be part of the Joint Monitoring committee as well as the deployment
The summit also implored the parties to the GPA to undertake measures to create a conducive environment for the holding of peaceful, credible, free and fair elections.
Reacting to the decision, representatives of parties that were fighting Mugabe over the July 31 election date and political analysts yesterday commended the regional bloc for standing up to Zanu PF.
“The most important thing is there was unanimity among Heads of State that it was wrong for Mugabe to proceed unilaterally against dictates of the GPA to agree for the roadmap and date (of elections),” said Welshman Ncube, president of the MDC, whom MDC-T’s Tendai Biti said “fought like a bull terrier” in tearing apart Zanu PF’s position at the summit.
“We should have sat down as government in light of the court judgment and comply as government. We hope Zanu PF has learnt that unilateralism doesn’t pay. We told Mugabe clearly to act as President of Zimbabwe and not as first secretary of Zanu PF and it was clear that Sadc implored him to do the same.”
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said his party welcomed the outcome of the summit.
“We think Sadc as a bloc now understands the Zimbabwean
situation better than before and it is more focused on developments within Zimbabwe than before,” he said.
Mwonzora said Sadc, especially the South African president Jacob Zuma and the rest of the facilitation team, had retained a principled stand on the matter despite a barrage of criticism from “some Zanu PF loose canons”.
“Our argument has never been about dates, but it has always
been about conditions under which elections are held. We require mechanisms to curb violence. There is need for a Code of Conduct for security forces especially governing their conduct during polls, with a penal code which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission can enforce.
“The need to open up the State media, especially ZBC, to all contesting parties and the need to re-align all the laws with implications on elections, the National Security Act, Posa, Aippa.
“All these can be easily done. Why we were not able to do them is because of intransigence of Zanu PF and its leader. With political will, they can be done. If I was asked for instance to write the Code of Conduct for the security forces, I would do it in a day.”
MKD leader Simba Makoni said: “We would like to commend Sadc for remaining seized with the situation in Zimbabwe. The position is in accord with our (coalition) requirements. It reinforces our position. We will be engaging government so that we can have elections on an equal footing.”
Efforts to get a comment from Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo were fruitless.