5 July 2013

Zimbabwe: Mugabe 'Threatens' to Withdraw From SADC

Photo: MDC
MDC Manifesto Launch in Marondera.

President Robert Mugabe warned Friday that if the Southern African Development Community (SADC) 'decides to do stupid things' in connection with Zimbabwe's elections then the country will move out of the regional body.

Mugabe was addressing ZANU PF supporters at the launch of the party's manifesto in Harare on Friday. He was speaking a day after the Constitutional Court upheld his proclamation for elections to be held on July 31st.

The 89 year old leader accused his partners in the coalition government of 'running to SADC to complain' that he had unilaterally called for elections, without implementing reforms.

A special SADC summit held in Maputo shortly after Mugabe controversially announced the poll dates, suggested the coalition partners should ask the court for a delay in order to resolve their differences.

But in a fiery speech Mugabe said: "SADC has no power to command us to do that which our court says cannot be done. Let it be known that we are in SADC voluntarily. If SADC decides to do stupid things we can move out and withdraw from SADC."

However he pointed out that there are some in SADC who saw good sense although there were "some quarters" who supported the MDCs' call for an election extension.

"These were not quarters of authority. There were just utterance by some stupid idiotic woman in South Africa saying no elections cannot be held on the 31st of July even against a ruling of our courts. And an ordinary street woman says NO? argh!" lashed out Mugabe.

Mugabe's statement comes as ZANU PF this week slammed a senior member of the South African mediation team, Lindiwe Zulu after she had been quoted in the South African media saying SADC 'hoped' that Zimbabwe's election date of July 31st would be extended by a month. The state controlled Herald newspaper called on President Jacob Zuma to "tether his terrier."

MDC-T Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said Thursday's Constitutional Court ruling, which unanimously rejected a series of election related appeals, was not surprising but showed more evidence of the court's ZANU PF bias. He said the Court did not want to "displease the emperor."

Even though the MDC formations said they would abide by the court ruling they maintain that Mugabe's election proclamation was illegal, especially as the Prime Minister had not agreed to the July 31 date, as required under the Global Political Agreement.

But Mugabe told the gathering he did not have to consult anyone because he is given the authority to make proclamations.

"The court said the President has to give a ruling. It didn't say the President and Tsvangirai and Mutambara," he said to loud applause from the audience.

"Democracy demands that we go back to the people and our court actually had to command us that we must have elections not later than July 2013. The court had to force us to go to elections. But even then, what did they do? They thought they could go outside our country and appeal against the ruling of our court.

"Even lawyers, professors who know better that the judgment of our Supreme Court is final and must be obeyed still wanted, for some reason or other, to get outsiders to intervene. No outsider is allowed to intervene in a situation where our courts will have given a ruling! That is final!" Mugabe added.

Observers said Mugabe's speech was full of rhetoric but contained very little on how his party hopes to address the challenges facing Zimbabwe, including record unemployment.

It is also still not clear where and how the government is going to find the money for the harmonized poll, that includes council, parliamentary and presidential elections. Last week the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said they needed $132 million dollars for the elections.


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