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July/August 2011
Vol. 36, No. 4

Zimbabwe: SADC's cautious push forward

An Extraordinary Summit of Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government met in South Africa June 11-12 to consider the situations in Madagascar and Zimbabwe. The outcome document was publicly welcomed by political leaders on both sides of Zimbabwe's political divide, according to, though their interpretations were significantly different.

The Summit "noted the decisions of the Organ Troika Summit held in Livingstone, Zambia in March 2011" when the Troika, SADC's security organ, expressed its "impatience" at delays in implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which created Zimbabwe's unity government, and noted its "grave concern [at] the polarization of the political environment as characterized by, inter alia, resurgence of violence, arrests and intimidation."

That the recent Summit "mandated the Organ Troika to continue to assist Zimbabwe in the full implementation of the GPA" was interpreted by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) as supporting the Troika's earlier strong language. The Summit itself "encouraged the parties to the GPA to move faster in the implementation of the GPA and create a conducive environment to the holding of elections that will be free and fair, under conditions of a level playing field." The Summit urged the Troika to appoint their representatives as soon as possible to participate in the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC). This point was vigorously opposed by ZANU-PF on the basis of state-sovereignty. MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti said that the party was pleased with the Summit outcome, noting also the Summit decision to devote resources to ensuring that outside monitors in the JOMIC could carry out their work in Zimbabwe.

At the same time, the Summit "committed to continued dialogue with the Western powers on the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe," which ZANU-PF claimed as a major victory for President Robert Mugabe.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition reported on some of the more contentious moments during the Summit:

ZANU-PF put up a spirited fight but its charm offensive failed. We are told at one point during the discussions there was a heated exchange between [South Africa's] President [Jacob] Zuma and President Mugabe when Mugabe challenged the Facilitator's report presented in Zambia. Zuma is said to have retorted: "I do not manufacture things; my reports are based on things that are happening in the country, based on facts." Additionally, when ZANU-PF said they had not been given a copy of the report before-hand [SADC Executive Secretary] Dr. [Tomaz] Salomao is said to have reported that indeed his office had sent copies of the report to all three parties on time. The ZANU-PF delegation left in a huff – they did not wait for the communiqué to be issued. MDC-T appears satisfied with the outcome.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Information and Advocacy Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga continued, "SADC leaders have maintained their position taken in Zambia, they are behind President Zuma, it appears. While they have said the right things, the challenge remains that of implementation. We wait to see ZANU-PF's reaction, it may continue on the path of defiance. The communiqué did not address timelines in concrete terms. It did not address measures to be taken by SADC in the event of non-compliance. The language of the communiqué has somewhat been toned down in what appears to be an attempt to allow ZANU-PF to save face, but the contents have remained those agreed in Zambia. The Troika team to work with JOMIC is a significant development, depending on their specific terms of reference. We would have wanted a clear indication that progress should be reviewed at the August Summit in Angola. From this communiqué it is inconceivable that elections will be held in 2011 … Although not a loud bang, its an important step in the right direction that needs to be sustained and to be viewed as a building block on the democratization path. Thanks to President Zuma and his Facilitation Team for this definite shift in SADC position."

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