Mugabe fails to remove Zim from Sadc agenda

DESPITE spirited efforts by President Robert Mugabe and his allies to remove Zimbabwe from the agenda of the forthcoming Sadc summit in Windhoek, the regional bloc’s executive secretary Tomaz Salomao has said the issue would be discussed.

Salomao this week told an international radio station that the Zimbabwe issue would be discussed under the review of the political situation in the region. He said the Sadc facilitator on the Zimbabwe crisis, South African President Jacob Zuma, would give a report on the country’s political situation and that would bring up the issue for discussion.
Another senior Sadc secretariat official based at the headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana, also told the Independent last night that Zimbabwe would “come up despite all these diplomatic efforts to suppress the issue”.

“We are aware that some officials in Harare are lobbying to have Zimbabwe not formally discussed at the summit but the way the situation is going I think it will come up despite sustained efforts to suppress it,” the Sadc official said.

Zuma has been stepping up pressure on Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara to resolve outstanding issues under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) ahead of the Sadc summit in Windhoek on August 16/17.
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Zuma on Monday dispatched his special envoy Mac Maharaj back to Harare to push for a resolution of the remaining issues. Maharaj spent most of last week in Harare engaged on the issue.

GPA principals recently whittled down the number of outstanding issues from more than 10 to merely three, the appointments of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, as well as the swearing-in of a deputy Minister of Agriculture.

The issue of provincial governors, one of the most bitterly contested GPA matters, has assumed a new dimension after the expiry of the governors’ tenures at the end of July. Although the issue has not been cleared, there was agreement on the formula of resolving it. Mugabe has been balking on implementation of this issue.

While Zuma has been pulling out all the stops to crack the Zimbabwe deadlock before the Sadc summit, Mugabe and his officials have been trying to ensure Zimbabwe is not discussed in Windhoek.

Mugabe usually resists having Zimbabwe on the agenda of such meetings, while Tsvangirai always insists on it being discussed. A similar battle erupted last year just before the Sadc summit in Kinshasa on September 7-8.

However, Salomao said Zimbabwe would be discussed.

“We are going to have a review of the political situation in the region,” Salomao said in a recorded interview with VOA. Asked if Zimbabwe would fall into that category and debate, he said “yes”.

The Zimbabwe situation is likely to be debated in the same breath as the cases of Lesotho and Madagascar. The DRC situation is also one of the likely agenda items. Diplomatic sources last week told the Independent Mugabe was banking on the incoming Sadc chair, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and outgoing chair, DRC President Joseph Kabila to prevent a discussion on Zimbabwe.

However, sources said this was going to be difficult because Zuma as the facilitator on Zimbawe would present a report of the Sadc troika on the organ on politics, defence and security to the summit. This would open the debate on Zimbabwe. The troika is chaired by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza who after taking over in Kinshasa last year convened two meetings in Maputo to discuss Zimbabwe and other issues.

The Sadc organ on politics, defence and security met in Maputo on November 5 last year to discuss Zimbabwe. The double troika of Sadc heads of state and government and the organ on politics, defence and security also met in Maputo on January 14 to discuss Madagascar and Zimbabwe.
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Ministers connected to the directorate of the organ on politics, defence and security have been meeting since Tuesday in Maputo to discuss the regional situation and prepare for the Sadc summit. Zimbabwe was one of the issues up for discussion.

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