2 August 2011

Zimbabwe: Zuma's Zim Role Nears End?

Photo: Buanews
File photo: President Jacob Zuma, center, with President Robert Mugabe, right, on a previous working visit to Zimbabwe.

Harare — THE forthcoming 31st Ordinary Sadc Summit of heads of State and Government slated for Luanda, Angola, this month should consider whether President Jacob Zuma continue as facilitator to Zimbabwe's inter-party dialogue after assuming the chairmanship of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, Government sources have said.

As a facilitator, President Zuma should report progress to the troika chairman who in turn reports to full summit and unless the Zimbabwe issue is finalised before the Luanda summit, as was envisioned at the extraordinary summit held in Sandton, South Africa in June, the South African leader would be reporting to himself; a development analysts say would create a conflict of interest.

Ms Lindiwe Zulu, who speaks for President Zuma's facilitation team, told The Herald yesterday that there was no problem with her boss wearing the two hats of chairing the troika and facilitating dialogue in Zimbabwe.

Other members of President Zuma's facilitation team are Mr Mac Maharaj and Mr Charles Nqakula. However, a senior Government official yesterday said it was the mandate of Sadc to appoint a facilitator.

"The facilitation team cannot suddenly assume status after the elevation of the facilitator to the Troika chairmanship.

"The Sadc Summit is the one that has the mandate of appointing the facilitator who in turn will appoint his own facilitation team.

"There are a number of scenarios here, which Sadc may consider to deal with this matter.

"The first scenario is for Sadc to decide on whether he (President Zuma) can serve as facilitator at the same time being the Troika chairman.

"The second option is for Sadc to allow President Zuma to undertake the two roles, but recusing himself when Zimbabwe is being discussed by the Troika.

"Another scenario that Sadc may consider is for President Zuma to postpone (assuming) his (Troika) chairmanship and continue as the facilitator to Zimbabwe's inter-party dialogue.

"If all these options fail, it means Sadc will have to go back to its tradition where facilitators are appointed from retired Presidents," one official said.

He said all the options would only work with the consent of the country, which is being facilitated.

"The facilitator served at the pleasure of the facilitated.

"We have a case where Sir Ketumile Masire the then President of Botswana was appointed as facilitator to the Democratic Republic of Congo, but was rejected by the Congolese.

"So a facilitator cannot just be imposed, he is built on the acceptance of the people being facilitated," said the official.

Another official said the facilitation team was a mere back up group appointed by the Sadc facilitator and it is not recognised by the regional bloc.

He said it does not assume status in Sadc operations since it was just a secretariat of the facilitator.

"In the case of President (Thabo) Mbeki who was the first facilitator in Zimbabwe, he appointed his facilitation team comprising Reverend Frank Chikane, Mukoni Ratshitanga and others.

"That team did not assume any Sadc status and it ceased its operations at the time President Mbeki passed over his facilitation role to President Zuma," said the official.

In an interview yesterday, Ms Zulu said: "We have the capacity to handle that because the facilitator has facilitation (team), which will play that role.

"The facilitation will then report to President Zuma in his capacity as the Troika chairperson. That is not going to be difficult for us."

She said the facilitation team would continue to deal with all issues raised by parties in the inclusive Government.

Ms Zulu said they were not working with any deadline, but were driven by progress on the ground.

She said negotiators had registered a lot of progress after they had agreed on election roadmap timelines.

At the Sandton summit, parties to the GPA agreed to have timelines for the draft election roadmap in place by the first week of July, which was duly achieved, and to have everything finalised by the time of the Luanda summit.

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