SW Radio Africa (London)

26 June 2008

Zimbabwe: SADC Meeting a Shambles As Troika Calls for Election Postponement

The efforts by SADC leaders to intervene in the Zimbabwe crisis have again gone unsupported after key members failed to attend a troika summit in Swaziland, convened to discuss the worsening crisis in Zimbabwe.

Wednesday's meeting turned into a shambles after Angola, the chair, and South Africa, the mediator, boycotted the summit. According to a Tanzanian government statement released early Wednesday, South African president Mbeki and the current Southern African Development Community chairman, Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia, had been invited to the meeting.

The leaders of Tanzania, Angola and Swaziland were also scheduled to attend in their capacity as the SADC's troika organ on politics, defence and security.

However Mbeki's spokesman, in an effort to explain the president's critical absence, said no invitation had been sent, while Mwanawasa was a no show. At the same time Zimbabwe's state run Herald newspaper reported on Thursday that Mbeki's Angolan counterpart, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, also boycotted the meeting, leaving only President Jakaya kikwete of Tanzania and King Mswati of Swaziland in attendance.

The Herald quoted an unnamed government official as saying: "It was a bilateral meeting between two countries, it can never be a troika meeting. Troika means three and the deputy chair cannot call a meeting when the chair is there. Their resolution has no force in respect to SADC, let alone Zimbabwe. The two countries (Tanzania and Swaziland) are only expressing an obligation to the Western world".

The attending members echoed calls for Friday's poll to be postponed, but the call is just the latest in a string of impassioned pleas for a postponement - calls that have had little effect on Mugabe's plans for the poll to go ahead.

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