16 November 2017

Southern Africa: SADC Urges Amicable Solution to Political Impasse in Zimbabwe

Harare — The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has noted the unfolding political situation in Zimbabwe with great concern and urged an amicable resolution of the political impasse.

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, the current SADC Chair, issued the statement which called for calm and restraint, and urged the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) to ensure that the maintenance of peace and security is not compromised.

The ZDF issued an early morning statement on 15 November, broadcast on national television, saying essentially that they were taking action to protect the Constitution and the economy.

The statement said the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Force, President R.G. Mugabe and his family are safe and their security is guaranteed.

“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.”

Several cabinet ministers and officials of the political party in government have been arrested and will be charged, following several weeks of economic downturn coupled with inflammatory statements by Mugabe’s wife, Grace, who publicly abused the Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, at rallies, before he was dismissed from the government and party last week.

This was the beginning of a purge of his supporters from the government and party to prevent them being elected to the Central Committee of the party this week, in preparation for an Extraordinary Congress of the party, the Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front) due to take place in Harare in mid-December.

Mnangagwa, who is a constitutional lawyer and former minister of justice, left the country a week ago, but is believed to have returned following the announcement.

The civil service had also been targeted for arbitrary dismissals, but the ZDF statement said the integrity of the civil service would be protected. The statement also spoke to the Judiciary and to Members of Parliament.

“To the judiciary, the measures underway are intended to ensure that, as an independent arm of the state, you are able to exercise your independent authority without fear of being obstructed as has been the case with this group of individuals.

“To our Members of Parliament: Your legislative role is of paramount importance for peace and stability in this country and it is our desire that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective political constituencies according to democratic tenets.”

All political parties are urged to discourage members from engaging in violence, and the public are urged to limit unnecessary travel but continue with normal activities as usual.

The statement was made on national television and radio in the early hours of the morning, and continued to be broadcast at intervals, although programming returned to normal.

Generally, the population responded positively to the statement and went to work. It was business as usual in most parts of the country, although in the capital city, Harare, some embassies and private schools were closed.

In recent weeks, there has been tension over inflammatory public statements made by the President’s wife, which were seen as placing herself unconstitutionally into the process of succession to her 93-year-old husband, who has held power since independence in 1980 following a liberation war against the colonial settler state of Southern Rhodesia that did not accommodate black Africans.

The military and the war veterans are led by principled individuals who fought in the war to liberate the country and facilitate inclusive governance and economic development. Their statement concluded on that note.

“Our wish is that you enjoy your rights and freedoms and that we return our country to a dispensation that allows for investment, development and prosperity that we all fought for and for which many of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice.” sardc.net

Zimbabwe

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