Zuma’s team expected this week

Southern African Development Community leaders are racing against time to ensure that Zimbabwe holds a free and fair election, but the absence of key negotiators last week stalled progress.


South African President Jacob Zuma's facilitation team is expected in Harare this week to pave way for high-level dialogue with all parties to the GPA.

Diplomatic sources said this week that SADC leaders were engaged in behind-the-scenes manoeuvres to pressure Mugabe to allow a genuine election to take place. They said Zuma was working hard with new SADC chairman Joseph Kabila of DRC to ensure Zimbabwe complies with the regional bloc’s election guidelines before the crucial poll.

SADC is supposed to second a team to join Zimbabwe's Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, and the modalities of that plan is being made by the SADC Troika under the supervision of Kabila.

Zambia is yet to present its nominee, and that is holding up the deployment of the JOMIC team.

An undisputed election is regarded by many Southern African leaders as a priority in the battle to resolve Zimbabwe’s long-running political and economic crisis.

Zuma's facilitation team was expected in Harare last week, but the visit was cancelled because two negotiators were out of the country. Zanu (PF)'s Patrick Chinamasa was in Geneva, where he presented a highly controversial human rights report whitewashing Harare's appalling human rights record. MDC-N's Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga was in Malawi on government business.

Lindiwe Zulu, Zuma's international relations chief, told The Zimbabwean that the team was due to arrive in Harare this week to assess whether Zimbabwe was complying with the GPA and election guidelines.

All SADC leaders adopted principles governing democratic elections in the region in August, 2004. The community’s protocol requires member states to hold regular, free and fair elections. Zimbabwe’s elections in 2008 were marred by accusations of electoral fraud, vote-rigging, violence and intimidation. While Zimbabwe contends it is complying with the SADC guidelines including provisions of the GPA – through a purportedly independent electoral commission – the MDC says the reforms are piecemeal and cosmetic.

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