Zimbabwe’s premier Morgan Tsvangirai and South African leader Jacob Zuma look headed for collision at the SADC summit in Namibia on Monday, with statements by their senior aides indicating the two men are worlds apart in their assessment of progress made by Zimbabwe’s troubled inclusive government.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit will discuss
the Harare power-sharing government as well as Zimbabwe’s continued refusal to adhere to rulings by the bloc’s human rights court or tribunal.
South Africa has been mediating in the all-party talks in Zimbabwe for over three years now and has blocked western attempts at imposing illegal sanctions on the country.
In the run up to the summit, Tsvangirai’s MDC and the South African government have been issuing conflicting statements on progress made with Pretoria’s foreign ministry director General Ayanda Ntsaluba last Thursday telling journalists that Zuma will tell the meeting that Zimbabwe is “on the correct path.”
However, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa says his party sharply differed with the South Africans’ assessment of the situation in Zimbabwe. Chamisa points to a “cocktail of outstanding issues” from the 2008 global political agreement (GPA) that gave birth to the unity government last year.
He says Zimbabwe was not on the “correct path” and said the MDC would
insist that SADC intervenes to ensure President Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF) live up to all their commitments under the GPA.
“Evidently there are still outstanding issues, issues where there is a deadlock, issues that were agreed on but that Zanu (PF) refuses to implement and toxic and corrosive issues,” said Chamisa.
“President Zuma, as the mediator, has been engaged with the three principals to the GPA and is aware of all the problems. All these issues are also contained in a letter sent to President Zuma,” added Chamisa.
He said the MDC wants the SADC to intervene to ensure Roy Bennett is appointed to the post of deputy agriculture minister. The former opposition party also wants regional leaders to pressure Mugabe to rescind his decision to unilaterally appoint his allies, Gideon Gono and Johannes Tomana, as Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor and Attorney General respectively.
The appointments are in breach of a communiqué issued by the SADC on
January 27, 2009, requiring Mugabe to consult Tsvangirai before appoint senior public officials.
In South Africa, Ntsaluba told reporters in Pretoria that the overwhelming picture in Zimbabwe’s GNU was favourable. “There is a semblance of stability and Zimbabwe is on the correct path,” he said. The statement was sweet music to Zanu PF. Its spokesman Rugare Gumbo told reporters last Friday that there are no outstanding issues for SADC to discuss.
He said, “There are no outstanding issues. The situation in the country has generally improved. We don’t expect any major development from the SADC summit, SADC is busy pre-occupied with other important issues from the region. They will not spend much time discussing with the Zimbabwe issue, because there are other important issues.”