Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai sneaked out of the country at the weekend to lobby regional leaders in a mission to thwart President Robert Mugabe’s bid to stampede the country to an election without key reforms necessary for free and fair polls.
Report by Dumisani Sibanda
This followed a Constitutional Court ruling a fortnight ago ordering Mugabe to hold elections by July 31.
Sources yesterday told NewsDay the MDC-T leader was already looking beyond today’s meeting of the principals with Zanu PF leader Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
They said Tsvangirai had gone to make preparatory groundwork ahead of a special Sadc summit on Zimbabwe that was initially scheduled for yesterday, but was postponed after Mugabe and Zanu requested for more time.
“He (Tsvangirai) is out of the country. As you know, the Sadc meeting is coming soon and he is laying the groundwork,” a source said South African President Jacob Zuma’s international relations advisor, Lindiwe Zulu, yesterday confirmed Tsvangirai was in South Africa.
“I am not aware of any meeting between the President (Zuma) and Tsvangirai,” said Zulu.
“I know he (Tsvangirai) is here, but I am not aware of any meeting. We have just returned home from Zimbabwe. The date of the Sadc meeting has not been confirmed. You will be told when the date has been decided.” Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.
Sadc wants a clear roadmap to elections that ensures polls are “credible” and are not a repeat of the violent 2008 presidential runoff that led to Sadc intervention and the consequent formation of the government of national unity.
Zanu PF wants elections held without security sector and media reforms insisted on by the two MDC formations as preconditions for free and fair elections.
The South African facilitation team was in the country last week where it met the Joint Implementation and Monitoring Committee and negotiators from the three political parties in the coalition government in preparation for the regional summit.
MDC leader Welshman Ncube yesterday said he had not been invited to the traditional Monday meeting between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara and his party was waiting for the holding of the Sadc special summit where it would present its position.
“I have not been invited by the threesome, the three allies, for their meeting and I will never be invited,” he said. “We are waiting for the summit to present our position on the issue of the elections and the three allies will present theirs.”
Sadc recognises Ncube as one of the principals in the coalition government, but Tsvangirai and Mugabe have shut him out.