Large protests expected at SADC summit on Sunday

By Tichaona Sibanda
5 November 2008
Thousands of demonstrators are expected to take to the streets of Pretoria in South Africa on Sunday, during the SADC summit on Zimbabwe.


A wide coalition of placard waving Zimbabwean groups will march to the venue of the summit to hand over a petition to the regional grouping, calling on the leaders to stop the rot in Zimbabwe.


Leaders from the 15-nation SADC bloc will be meeting to discuss the deadlock in talks between Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe over the formation of a coalition government.


Nickson Nyikadzino, a pro-democracy activist, told us from Johannesburg that Zimbabweans in South Africa will register their discontent over Mugabe’s intransigence in forming an inclusive government. Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing agreement in September, but the establishment of a unity government has stalled as Mugabe shows that he is not prepared to fairly allocate important ministries to the MDC. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki and the SADC have been trying to broker an end to the dispute.


We want to send clear message to Mugabe and the SADC leaders that people in Zimbabwe are dying unnecessarily because ZANU PF does not want to share power equally with its partners in the tripartite power-sharing deal,’ Nyikadzino said.


He said Sunday’s march against the regime is expected to be by far the largest. Authorities in South Africa have remained tight-lipped over the summit venue but South African based journalist Brian Latham confirmed the crisis summit is to be held in Pretoria, although authorities have not said anything about the exact venue.


Nyikadzano said they have information that authorities are trying to frustrate them from going ahead with their protest, citing their unwillingness to disclose the summit venue. He said they are working round the clock to get that information before Sunday.


We know they (authorities) become averse when it comes to issues pertaining to protests against Mugabe whenever he’s in the country. But that won’t stop us from registering our disapproval against him and his party,’ Nyikadzino added.


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