SADC must define a roadmap for free and fair elections

sadc_logoOnce again, a golden opportunity beckons for SADC, as the principal underwriter of the Global Political Agreement on behalf of the African Union, to exercise its authority and notice the tears of the people of Zimbabwe as they grieve over Robert Mugabes stubborn refusal to let them off the edge of an extremely dangerous precipice.

For the past decade, Zanu PF and Mugabe have shown downright disdain for African initiatives and African solutions to Zimbabwes recovery and a smooth return to legitimacy, with far-reaching consequences on our common humanity at home and in the neighbourhood.

It is common cause that Zimbabweans continue to lead a nomadic life through SADC and even beyond for reasons which the regional grouping are fully aware of; and have the capacity given a resolute political will to attend to without risking further social disruption, needless loss of life and political turbulence. As the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security meet in Gaborone, Botswana this weekend, Zimbabweans are waiting on a knife edge with bated breath for rock-solid guarantees on their future, now that the political stalemate in Harare has reached a crescendo sufficient to blur tomorrow and to mash the little progress towards peace and security during the past two years.

For the record, the fate of GPA is not, and has never been, at the discretion or benevolence of Mugabe and Zanu PF. Mugabe is a mere beneficiary, a bargain he rummaged after SADC nudged the MDC the winners of the 29 March 2008 election to soft-land the national crisis Zanu PF plunged Zimbabwe into through tyranny and a dictatorship. For that reason, Mugabe and Zanu PF must be restrained and stopped from adding fire to an already burning homestead in SADCs tranquil environs.

The issues at stake are clear. The MDC insists on the full implementation of the GPA with specific timelines for action; the realisation of a total transitional reform agenda; the restoration of a Constitutional and civil order in national institutions; ending Zanu PFs war psychosis which demands a heavy infusion of the security forces in civilian governance concerns, in particular the villagisation of the military; and the crafting and adoption of a new, people-driven Constitution that would pave the way for a open and fair, credible and legitimate, violence-free and dispute-empty national election.

The MDC believes the pace of the process, the results thereof, and the electoral environment shall determine the dates for national referendum on the new Constitution and a general election at which all Zimbabweans shall have a right to take part and decide their destiny. Any misguided attempt to short-change the process and to act out of nostalgic emotions shall drag us backwards into our dark past.

Since the 27 January 2009 SADC summit and communiqu, progress along that road-map to legitimacy has been painfully slow. Mugabe and Zanu PF ignored subsequent SADC resolutions, directives and deadlines purely out of their lack of respect for African mediation and wisdom; steadily eroding the hopes and confidence of Zimbabweans about the possibility of an imminent, lasting solution to the crisis.

By now SADC knows that Mugabe is likely to agree to whatever it says but behaves differently as soon as he returns home. At the weekends meeting, a monitoring and enforcement mechanism must be put place to ensure compliance beyond the existing shuttle diplomacy whose fruits remain still-born. The MDC believes SADCs reputation is sacrosanct and must be protected. Mugabe must never be allowed to get away with acts that compromise that regional esteem.

The MDC calls on the Troika and SADC to make clear to Mugabe and Zanu PF that the time has come for them to fulfill their side of the deal. The MDC remains fully committed to the letter and spirit of the GPA. The party has gone out of its way to make sure that the current transitional arrangement succeeds. For the sake of our nation and the entire region, the MDC kindly appeals to SADC to take a decisive stand and assist in normalising the volatile situation in Zimbabwe today.

Together, united, winning, ready for real change!!

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