MDC-T and Civics in massive lobbying drive at SADC summit

This weekend the Southern African Development Community is holding its annual summit in Lilongwe, Malawi. Although the Zimbabwean election is not formally on the agenda, it will have to be discussed, as the South African facilitation team has to report back to SADC.

South African president Jacob Zuma, as the African Union and SADC appointed facilitator in Zimbabwe, will be required to report to the summit on the facilitation process which led to the July 31st poll.

Zuma said in a statement he would communicate any information about the facilitation directly to SADC, or publicly when necessary. However he denied he was going to tell the regional leaders he had “accomplished his mission in Zimbabwe.”

“The Presidency distances itself from this rumour and rejects the utilisation of gossip and rumour to communicate a serious matter as South Africa's mediation role in the neighbouring Zimbabwe,” the statement read.

The development come as the MDC-T has sent a delegation, led by outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Thoko Khupe, to the Lilongwe summit to lobby member states to reject the July 31st results. The MDC-T, who have filed an election court petition, are expected to hand over a dossier, showing the election irregularities and allegations of massive rigging, to every country in SADC.

Scores of civil society organisations from Zimbabwe and the region are also lobbying on the sidelines of the summit. Regional Coordinator of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Joy Mabenge, said there are many platforms the groups are using to express themselves in Malawi to keep the Zimbabwe story alive “and to get justice for the people of Zimbabwe.”

SADC, which had 573 observers in the country for the election, deemed the process generally peaceful and free, but has yet to submit its final report. It has also carefully avoided using the word ‘fair.’

The political opposition and civil society are hoping that the heads of state at the SADC summit will commission an independent audit of the election which will expose rigging by ZANU-PF, although observers say that is highly unlikely as the regional governments are largely supportive of each other.

Meanwhile, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai told party supporters in Mutare on Wednesday that the only solution to the current crisis is to have another election. “Legitimacy does not come from outside. It comes from the people of Zimbabwe. AU, SADC and the outside will only give superficial legitimacy. It is the people of Zimbabwe who should legitimise an election,” Tsvangirai said. – SW Radio Africa

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