THE deadlock over Zimbabwe’s disputed poll took a dramatic twist this week, after Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leaders said they are petitioning the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) today to block President Emmerson Mnangagwa from assuming the chairmanship of the 16-member bloc next year.
Mnangagwa assumed the Sadc deputy chair’s position during its 43rd summit held in Angola last month.
He is expected to take over the chairperson’s role from Angolan President João Lourenço when Zimbabwe hosts Sadc’s 44th ordinary summit in August next year.
However, the Zimbabwe Independent can exclusively report that CCC’s petition to be lodged today is seeking to force Mnangagwa to step aside from the deputy chairperson’s position until Harare resolves the ‘political crisis’, which exploded after electoral authorities declared him winner in a tightly contested August 23 presidential poll.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition was this week piling pressure on Sadc to negotiate a fresh election after rejecting the presidential result.
Councillors and Members of Parliament were sworn in this week.
Mnangagwa won the polls, garnering 52,6% of the vote against CCC leader Nelson Chamisa’s 44%.
The Independent, in separate briefings, was informed that a CCC team led by Gladys Hlatshwayo and Jameson Timba were this week combing through the region, engaging leaders to convince them to call for fresh elections.
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CCC leaders kept full details of the meetings under wraps this week, but party spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said his leadership was happy with what has so far been achieved.
Mkwananzi confirmed CCC’s plan to petition Sadc yesterday, arguing that it was improper for Mnangagwa to deputise the chair, before taking over next year when there were issues of legitimacy around his presidency.
Mkwananzi appeared to indicate that Sadc had already raised issues over Mnangagwa’s “legitimacy” through a “final report”, yet to be released by its observer mission.
The Sadc mission slammed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) for what it described as a flawed election.
After Zanu PF reacted angrily to the report, Sadc issued a statement saying it stood by its mission’s preliminary statement.
“We note the completion of the Sadc final report whose import is to effectively render the Zanu PF government illegitimate until it formally challenges its condemnation with the Sadc secretariat in Botswana,” Mkwananzi told the Independent.
“Accordingly, we are petitioning Sadc because Zimbabwe cannot assume the Sadc chairmanship and continue with the deputy chair position until the Zimbabwean issue is resolved as this would be an irreconcilable conflict of interest. Mr Mnangagwa would have to gracefully recuse himself.
“We commend Sadc for this principled stand, and encourage them to maintain the stance until the crisis in Zimbabwe is resolved.
“Having exhausted all domestic remedies available to us, the principled stand taken by Sadc provides Zimbabwe with an
opportunity to explore dispute resolution mechanisms available at the Sadc, African Union and the international community,” he
But indication are that the petition will further divide a region that has already been split since Zimbabwe’s election results were announced two weeks ago.
However, the Independent can report that the CCC regional offensive was encountering headwinds, with Sadc’s former liberation
movements said to be coalescing around Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF, as they pushed back against the post-poll campaign for a new election.
Diplomatic sources said Sadc was divided over the Zimbabwean issue, with some member states reportedly led by Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema fighting in CCC’s corner.
Hichilema stayed away from Mnangagwa’s inauguration this week, which was attended by several of the region’s former liberation movements.
He sent his Foreign Affairs minister, Stanley Kakubo to the president’s swearing-in on Monday. “It is clear that Zimbabwe’s election, which was discredited by the Sadc observer mission and the African Union, has sharply divided Sadc with former liberation movements leaning on the side of Zanu PF,” a CCC source said.
“They feel that if Zanu PF is deposed from power, the wind of change blowing in the region may also sweep away African National
Congress (ANC) in South Africa, Chama Cha Mapinduzi in Tanzania and Frelimo of Mozambique.
“Former revolutionary movements are saying Zanu PF must stand as a bulwark against this change, which is thought to be Western- sponsored,” the source said.
Sadc’s scathing report triggered a fierce pushback from Zanu PF, with its information and publicity secretary Chris Mutsvangwa saying the bloc was being arm-twisted by the West to undermine Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.
There is a feeling within Sadc’s liberation movements that the West is pursuing a regime change agenda using opposition parties in Africa.
ANC secretary general, Fikile Mbalula, who was invited by the ruling party, this week flew into Harare to give Zanu PF support.
Mbalula, who paid a courtesy call on Mnangagwa at State House and met Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, underscored the enduring relations between the two liberation movements.
“We know that there are observer missions that have raised their views about how the elections have been conducted. They are
entitled to that but they must also respect the sovereignty of countries,” Mbalula told the press after meeting Mpofu.
However, the CCC trashed Mbalula’s utterances. The party’s spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said the opposition
was satisfied with the reception it was getting from its diplomatic offensive.
“We cannot throw away all eggs because of one rotten egg.
Mbalula’s utterances will not make us despise all other movements in the region,” he said.
“Liberation struggles were fought for three main causes, which are land, economy and the one-man-one vote principle. Is it not ironic that liberation movements would disregard the one-man-one vote, which they fought for?”
With Mnangagwa now expected to announce his cabinet, his electoral dispute with Chamisa that has raised questions about his
legitimacy is expected to play out on the Sadc diplomatic stage.