Action Alert: Prayers for Zimbabwe
June 9, 2011
Please pray for Zimbabwe, especially over the next 48 hours. A Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) extraordinary summit will convene on Saturday to discuss Zimbabwe’s ongoing crisis. Rallies are being planned outside the meetings. ZANU PF tries to block civic rally in SA.
In March, SADC dramatically changed its approach to Zimbabwe, noting with 'grave concern' the political polarization in Zimbabwe characterized by the 'resurgence of violence, arrests and intimidation.' (see Maryknoll NewsNotes May-June 2011)
A summary of the issues to be discussed during the extraordinary summit is offered in Amnesty International Urges Southern African Body Stand Firm on Zimbabwe and in the following Special Report for New Zimbabwe Forum (forum.newzimbabwe.com) by Betha Madhomu of News24:
Cape Town - Political analysts said on Thursday that it would be difficult to ascertain the outcome of the SADC extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe to be held in South Africa this weekend, but South Africa is likely to press the organ to take effective action on the country's political crisis.
Southern African leaders are to meet on Saturday to examine a political stalemate in Zimbabwe, amid warnings of rising violence and intimidation ahead of elections.
Judy Smith from South Africa's Institute for Security Studies (ISS) told News24 that although the SADC Troika’s deliberations on Zimbabwe in March this year in Livingstone, Zambia were a step in the right direction, it remained to be seen if SADC would have the capacity to implement the decision.
In March, SADC's security organ lashed out at President Robert Mugabe's failure to make reforms paving the way for elections. In an unusually harsh communiqué, it also denounced political violence and intimidation, echoing concerns raised by Mugabe's rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
This weekend’s summit is expected to set out a timeline for completing work on a new constitution which would lead to fresh elections, and to come down hard on violations of the pact that gave birth to the unity government.
“It’s difficult to be optimistic this time around. But what remains clear is that the South African mediation team seems to be frustrated by lack of progress in the Zimbabwe issue and it looks like they are definitely going to press SADC to come up with a clear resolution” said Smith.
Zimbabwean Ernest Mudzengi concurred, adding that the “fluidity” of issues affecting the country’s coalition government made it difficult to determine whether fruitful decisions were to come out of the meeting.
“It is most likely that SADC will speak to the position that was taken by the Troika in the last meeting in Livingstone to the effect the GPA should be fully implemented and violence stopped. However, Zanu-PF may prevail over SADC as the party has since rubbished the recommendations that came out of it,” said Mudzengi.
Mudzengi said comprehensive reforms were needed if any progress was to be made in solving the Zimbabwean crisis. Key amongst these reforms is the opening of the broadcast environment, a new electoral act, a new voters’ roll and constituency delimitation process, an impartial Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and security sector reforms.
Zimbabwe was meant to feature in a SADC summit last month in Windhoek but South African President Jacob Zuma - the regional mediator for Harare - could not attend as his party was contesting local elections.
Meanwhile media reports say that a throng of lobby groups based in South Africa, including Zimbabwean academics and exiles living in South Africa, were planning to stage a massive protest outside the Sandton Convention Centre where the summit is expected to be held.
The groups want to put pressure on African leaders to resolve the impasse by the Zimbabwe government before the completion of amendments to the country’s constitution which will open the way for fresh elections.