SADC reaffirms the reform agenda: Yet the ball remains in our court

Last week the Luanda SADC's Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government reaffirmed the need for Zimbabwe's unity government to fulfil all Global Political Agreement outstanding issues before the next election. This reaffirmation by SADC is important because SADC now stands between the push by President Mugabe to declare, unilaterally, an election timetable against the wishes of his political opponents and the majority of people of Zimbabwe, more so in an environment of growing insecurity. SADC has played its role by urging the unity government to stick to the GPA targets critically the need for a new constitution and an agreed election plan. The constitution writing process has come under relentless assault from ZANU PF with President Mugabe and his henchman declaring their desire for an election in 2012 with or without a new constitution. The statement by SADC is therefore of huge importance as it takes the unity government back to the agenda of finishing the constitution and subjecting the document to a referendum. The SADC Communiqué also makes it clear that the unity government must agree on the implementation of an election roadmap. This statement has also been contested by ZANU PF with arguments that the GPA does not necessarily carry or state any clear guidelines for elections except that there should be elections at the end of the GNU tenure.

SADC has reminded ZANU PF that such a pre-election process indeed exists and that after the referendum and possible adoption of a new constitution the parties must sit and agree on an election roadmap with the help of SADC mediator, President Jacob Zuma.     ZANU PF has resorted to raising a lot of dust attacking not only the constitution writing process, but President Zuma. President Mugabe even threatened to ask SADC to choose another facilitator in place of Zuma. It is important that despite the tomfoolery by Zambia's president Michael Sata, in attacking the MDC parties and supporting Mugabe in Luanda, SADC remains united and focused on the basic agenda which is for the unity government to complete the GPA agenda, and agree on an election roadmap. While the GPA, hence the unity government and its agenda were never agreed or consented to by the people of Zimbabwe in any democratic process, they however remain all we have on the table to move this country out of its present crisis. In the absence of ZANU PF and its security sector backers deciding, against all expectations, to reform, the SADC negotiated GPA process, with all its faults is the best plan that civil society has and that need support. It is important therefore that SADC be encouraged by Zimbabwe civil society to stick to the script through continued lobbying and awareness raising on the deteriorating security situation in Zimbabwe. While it might appear unhelpful the fact that SADC ignored the hoodlums in the Zimbabwe military who are threatening citizens and their political opponents might as well be a clear message that no one should take them seriously on the political front, yet their actions in support of ZANU PF are a matter of serious concern that we can only hope that the MDC parties raised in closed door meetings with SADC leaders.   I cannot help but agree with a Sunday Mail headline of 3 June that the ball is in our court. While this headline was published by this newspaper in an attempt at deflating the full impact of the SADC snub and blow on President Mugabe, the headline is however spot- on, that ultimately the citizens of Zimbabwe must take charge of their political future. SADC can only do so much at its level, but SADC cannot stop the murder of MDC supporters in Mudzi, SADC cannot stop the politicisation and incompetence in the police and military. SADC cannot stop the continued detention of MDC supporters on

contrived charges. SADC cannot stop the breaking up local governance systems. The call is for civil society and the generality of citizens to continue working at making Zimbabwe achieve peace in the immediate and long term future.     The affirmation of the GPA process by SADC is therefore to be noted and celebrated within the context and understanding that a lot more still needs to be done by us. While pushing for increased SADC involvement in a peaceful end to the Zimbabwe crisis, civil society must not lose fact of the prevailing environment of fear and deteriorating living conditions that need to be resolved now and in some cases by this unity government. While equally noting the good news from Luanda, civil society must be aware that the full package of reforms in Zimbabwe is far beyond the fulfilment of the GPA conditions, but also an end to the many human induced social ills. The prevailing food shortages, abuse of diamonds money, and other corrupt activities all have the capacity to derail the conduct of free and fair elections. We need to maintain pressure on the democratic political sector in the GNU to demonstrate leadership not only in pushing SADC to stick to the script but in improving social delivery and standing up for the oppressed.   We need to take note of Luanda yet self-introspect   on what our role is in this unfolding drama.

By David Mutomba

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