15 June 2013

Zimbabwe: SADC Calls for 14-Day Election Extension

Photo: Buanews
President Robert Mugabe welcomes President Jacob Zuma in Zimbabwe (file photo).

Regional leaders adopted an extension of elections in Zimbabwe by 14 days at the extraordinary SADC summit on Zimbabwe in Mozambique.

Political parties in the inclusive government have agreed at the SADC Summit that the Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa will approach the Constitutional Court and request that the election be held on 14 August.

If they succeed with the court challenge it will mean the election will be held close to the United Nations World Tourism conference set for August 24th.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said some of the SADC Heads of State and Government who were present included Presidents Jacob Zuma, Hefikepunye Pohamba, Joseph Kabila, Ian Khama and Deputy President Guy Scott.

"President Mugabe came through with the biggest entourage as compared to other heads of State. We are informed that President Mugabe and his delegation informed the summit organizers that they had come prepared for a very short meeting, behavior which could be interpreted as somewhat bullish as the Zimbabwe issue may need more time," a statement by the Crisis Coalition said.

Below are some of the comments made by the different stakeholders on their Facebook pages during and after the summit:

MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti:

Good people, good good people, it has been an incredible and unbelievable day here in this great beautiful coastal capital of Maputo.

SADC rose to the occasion and scuttled the evil and Machiavellian machinations of the chaos faction of Zanu PF. The decision of summit was clear; all the recommendations of the facilitator President Zuma were adopted with the net effect that the Proclamation of elections made on Thursday is rendered null and void. The key operative decisions of SADC are that:

1) Government through the ministry of Justice is ordered and directed to make an application to the constitutional court following consultations by all political parties, seeking to move the date of the election from the 31 July 2013

2) that the agreed amendments to the electoral act which had been purportedly been made into law by the President using the Presidential Powers (Temporal Measures) Act be brought to parliament this Tuesday for debate and adoption.

3) that the SADC facilitation team and the troika team appointed in Livingstone sit in Jomic and not merely receive reports as demanded by Zanu PF

4) that an Inter Ministerial Committee be appointed to deal with implementation of agreed issues on media reform and the monitoring of hate speech in all media

5) that the security forces publicly state or restate their commitment to the rule of law in particular their complete adherence to section 208 of the constitution.

6) That within the time parliament has remaining the parties negotiate and make the necessary amendments to POSA, AIPPA, the Broadcasting Act, section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act etc....

7) that SADC observers be deployed immediately consistent with the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections

8) that any other issue and the implementation of the above be overseen by the facilitation team.

Theoretically SADC have therefore effectively ordered a return to constitutionalism and not the current situation where hiding under the cloak of compliance with a court judgment illegalities and atrocities were now being committed.

I have been to all summits on Zimbabwe since 2007 and there have been many. I want to thank and acknowledge the electric delivery of Dr.

Morgan Tsvangirai our party president, what a delivery. Simple straight forward passionate and effective. I liked it when in his conclusion he asked President Mugabe why it should be about power and not the people.

Tsvangirai you made us proud today.

Perhaps the most marvellous thing was the tag teaming and complementarity between MT and Prof. Welsh Ncube. I have seen Welsh in court and on countless times we have fought on opposite sides (of course he always lost). Today the man from Vungu fought like a lion. Whilst MT was the godfather speaking like a statesman Welsh was a bull terrier flooring Zanu with erudite legal submissions.

As for Zanu PF, I think that the chaos faction of this party must take blame for humiliating and embarrassing President Mugabe the way they did today. He is clearly too elderly to be subjected to the barrage he faced today. Fortunately he quickly wisened to the folly of the chaos faction's machinations and sclerotic schemes. He therefore quickly conceded to the need of a court application ,thus saving summit of continuous further debate.

I want to say that we Zimbabweans want an election yesterday. However it must be legitimate and credible. The election must on the people s terms and not on the bloody hands of a cruel and horrible faction of Zanu PF.

We are ready. Our primaries are almost done, JUICE and ART are out.

Trust me this winter we will finish it off.

Thank you SADC, thank you President Zuma, thank you Tsvangirai, thank you Welsh.

Zikomu kwambili

MDC President Welshman Ncube

All the parties have agreed that the Minister of Justice will approach the Constitutional Court and request that the election be held on 14 August. The Summit also adopted the President Zuma's report, which insists on the implementation of the agreed roadmap before elections are held. Thank you to SADC for standing firm.

MDC Spokesman Nhlanhla Dube:

For 30 to 40 minutes Prof. Ncube had the SADC leaders spell bound, punching holes into Mugabe's early poll case. To conclude he looked Mugabe in the eye and said. We ask u to act as our President, Zimbabwe's President, not a Zanu PF President.

MDC Secretary General Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga

Am sitting in this summit and so conflicted, I hav e listened to President Mugabe, heard Prime Minister Tsvangirai, listened to Prof Ncube give a plain and simple explanation on the unconstitutionality of the proclamation, I am glad we can put our case but do we have to get here where a group of people drag their leader here, advise him wrongly therefore embarrassing him in front of his colleagues, how do people set their leader like this, I can't even look at him, but more so am so angry with this group who want President Mugabe to end his career this way.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai's legal adviser Alex Magaisa:

To colleagues who are asking for updates from Maputo, a Communique setting out the recommendations of the special SADC Summit will be issued. Please wait for that as it is the authoritative piece on what went on. We are gracious in any circumstance.

The most important thing is not the dates but to ensure that we all, as a collective, do what's right to have a credible and legitimate election that is free of contestation. We are sometimes too quick to judge SADC but on this occasion, please take a bow ...

But to move on, we need everybody working together for a free, fair and transparent process, whatever one's political affiliation. Today is a reminder that inclusivity and consultative processes remain critical to resolving what is essentially a political and not merely a legal challenge.

Commentator Maxwwell Saungweme:

I think this thing called SADC is just worsening the crisis in Zimbabwe.

What reform can be done by these parties in government in two week, which they failed to do in five years. What is the difference between 31 July and 14 August as far as reforms and preparing for elections is concerned. If SADC genuinely wanted an extension they should have extended the election date by a much longer period. I don't see this stupid decision as a victory at all to anyone or any organisation. The decision takes Zimbabwe back. What if Mugabe refuses to go back to court to seek extension? What if the courts cling to their earlier ruling?

This is just adding confusion to an already existing crisis. There is really nothing to take home with this misguided decision of SADC, methinks! A solution on Zimbabwe will only come from Zimbabwe!

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