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SADC summit on Zimbabwe postponed

Asumpta Lattus
June 7, 2013

A summit of regional mediators, scheduled for Sunday in the Mozambican capital Maputo, to assess Zimbabwe's readiness for elections has been postponed.

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (R) looks on as President Robert Mugabe signs Zimbabwe's new constitution into law in the capital Harare, May 22, 2013. The constitution, approved overwhelmingly in a referendum in March, clips the powers of the president and imposes a two-term limit. However, it does not apply retroactively so the 89-year-old Mugabe could extend his 33 years in power by another decade. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE - Tags: POLITICS)
Simbabwe Robert Mugabe neue Verfassung 22.05.2013Image: Reuters

No reason was given, nor was a new date for the meeting of presidents of the 15-member South African Development Community (SADC) announced. Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court has ruled that President Robert Mugabe should hold elections no later than July 31, so time for preparations would appear to be running out.

DW: What role should SADC be playing in the Zimbabwean elections?

Nixon Nyikadzino: The role of SADC is to make sure than Zimbabwe can actually hold an election, an election that will be credible, peaceful, free and fair. This summit was meant to do two things – one is to try and locate – in terms of the member states – how far they can go in terms of funding this election, or finding resources for electoral support. Secondly to deal with the matters that arise from the Global Political Agreement and the electoral road map.

In the first instance when SADC guaranteed the Global Political Agreement and the formation of the inclusive government, there were particular benchmarks that were supposed to be arrived at by the inclusive government in order to assist Zimbabwe to transit towards a credible election that would allow Zimbabwe to have a leader of its own choice.

You must remember that SADC on its own won't be able to find the funds to finance the election. These resources will have to come from member states and I think the member states owe it to the people of Zimbabwe to make sure that the resources they are going to invest in the Zimbabwean election will be worth investing, in the sense that they will be able to realize some peace and stability.

Why was the summit postponed?

It was for logistical reasons. President Robert Mugabe is still in Japan and there was also an issue to do with President Zuma as the facilitator, who also could not make it by Sunday. Most of the heads of state were simply gracing the Japan summit and they also needed some time to logistically go back to their countries and prepare for the summit. So it was basically logisitical, it wasn't political!

What should SADC's other priorities be - apart from funding for the election?

The priority should be on voter registration, voter inspection, observation of the election, and also the issue of having translucent ballot boxes, and may be also to technically assist in coming up with an electronic way of actually transmitting election results. That's some of the nitty-gritty needed to reduce the level of rigging, the level of voter manipulation, but beyond that it is only the issue around what the Zimbabweans want. SADC must simply put some conditions in place, in terms of the things they agreed upon in the electoral roadmap and the Global Political Agreement.

For your information, the date of an election is subservient to the constitution of Zimbabwe. It is not the constitution of Zimbabwe that is subservient to the date of an election as set out by the constitutional court!

Interview: Asumpta Lattus

Nixon Nyikadzino is a senior programs officer, advocacy and networking, with the group "Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition"

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