to hand over a communiqué to SADC Foreign ministers earlier this week ahead of the meeting of SADC heads of state that opens in the Lesotho capital today and ends on Saturday. In their communication, the NGOs asked the 14-member regional bloc to immediately call President Robert Mugabe to order, saying “business as usual will not do.”
The Zimbabwean government raced to defend its position saying it had “authentic information” that some Western governments were working with the civic groups and opposition political parties to “pursue the illegal regime change agenda” by fabricating adverse reports on the conditions in Zimbabwe.
Earlier this week, SADC executive secretary Prega Ramsay and Botswana President Festus Mogae, the regional bloc’s current chair, indicated that the Zimbabwe crisis would not be discussed at the summit because it was not a regional problem.
NGO leaders told The Zimbabwean from Maseru on Tuesday that Zimbabwean officials had told a meeting of SADC foreign ministers on Monday that they had “concrete information” that Western powers, Britain in particular, are funding efforts to “unseat the government.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe urged SADC leaders to sustain pressure on Harare to promote internal political dialogue and national reconciliation; to accept the findings and recommendations of the United Nations special envoy to Zimbabwe; and to engage the international community to achieve these outcomes.
“The constitutional, legislative and electoral framework . . . remains unchanged,” says the communiqué, adding “repressive security and press laws and other pieces of legislation prejudicial to freedom of speech, the press, movement and association, remain on the statute book without amendment.”
Human rights lawyers attending the summit said government officials told foreign ministers that part of the plan by Western powers was to stretch Harare’s security forces to the limit through demonstrations and protest action, and to “provoke the government to act in a way that they do things that should not be done.”
The main wing of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the
regional grouping had become an “irrelevant trade union of leaders.”
“SADC has been at best fragmented and muffled, and at worst lacking in force and substance,” MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said in a frank Heroes Day message. His opposite number in the pro-Senate MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, reasserted this position, saying SADC could not afford to ignore the Zimbabwe crisis.
A SADC task force on Zimbabwe, expected in Harare soon, will be under pressure to respond to a damning report on Zimbabwe, which warns of further deterioration in the political and economic situation.
BY GIFT PHIRI
HARARE - The Crisis in Zimbabwe Committee, a coalition of Zimbabwean NGOs, has been barred from addressing Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders meeting in the Lesotho capital, Maseru on the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe.
The NGO alliance however managed