SADC to have input on election date in Zimbabwe

sadc_reThe regional SADC bloc will carry out an assessment of the political environment in Zimbabwe before the three parties in the inclusive government can announce the date for elections.

ZANU PF leader Robert Mugabe has made proclamations that elections will be held in the middle of next year. But Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai insists the elections cannot take place without reforms and a constitutional review. But a well placed source in the Civil Society in Zimbabwe told SW Radio Africa the regional bloc told them Mugabe cannot unilaterally call for elections without SADCs involvement or input.

A delegation from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition held a meeting with Tomaz Salomao, the SADC executive secretary, on November 22nd in Gaborone, Botswana. The meeting focused on the blocs role in efforts to find a lasting solution to Zimbabwes political conflict. They also discussed the sub-regional position on elections and the lifespan of the coalition government. Apparently Salomao observed during the meeting that contrary to calls by Mugabe to hold elections next year, SADC will sit down with the three parties in the GPA and draw up a roadmap that would lead to a new poll.

The executive secretary insisted ZANU PF cannot dictate terms as far as elections are concerned. It has to be a tripartite agreement, with the concurrence of SADC, a source said. A SADC Troika summit to decide on the contents of an election roadmap will meet in Lusaka, Zambia early next year. Civil Society Organisations and Non Governmental Organisations are pushing hard for SADC and the African Union, as guarantors of the GPA, to make an independent assessment of conditions on the ground prior to that. They want SADC to deploy monitors to Zimbabwe and to ensure the full implementation of the GPA. How SADC would manage to do that, after two years of fruitless talks with Robert Mugabe, is not clear.

Tsvangirai told Reuters news agency this week it was not possible to have elections in June next year because a referendum on the constitution was needed first. I don’t think at the moment you can conduct an election. One of the fundamental issues we need to handle is the issue of violence. All elections so far have been conducted in a manner that is very violent … this is violence that is state-sponsored, the Prime Minister said. When the police, army, militia, war veterans are used to intimidate, coerce, and cause torture and death to the people, that is the kind of violence we need to contain, he added.

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