By Gift Phiri and Richard Chidza
HARARE – South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma was last night locked in crucial talks with President Robert Mugabe and other “unity” government leaders, as Sadc gets jittery over a restive military and deadlock on a new constitution.
Zuma, the mediator in Zimbabwe’s political stalemate, jetted into Zimbabwe yesterday evening for mediation talks ahead of a Sadc summit in Maputo at the weekend. He refused to comment on his mission when he arrived at Harare International Airport and headed straight for talks with the Zimbabwean leadership at a city hotel.
Talks were still in progress at the time of going to print. Prime Minister and MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai was the first to emerge from the meeting yesterday but refused to say much. He said: “We have just briefed President Zuma that’s all and he is still consulting other parties. He will tell you at the end of the consultations.”
Zuma, who also heads the Sadc organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, is expected to brief regional heads at the Maputo meeting. Zuma, who also heads the Sadc organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, is expected to brief regional heads at the Maputo meeting.
His attention is focused on the deadlocked Parliament-led constitution-making process, where Mugabe’s Zanu PF is demanding wide-ranging changes to the draft document before it is put to a referendum.
The MDC has rejected Zanu PF’s “outlandish” demands, and asserts it is time the draft is put to a vote in a referendum and if there are changes that must be done, they will have to be discussed at the second All Stakeholders’ Conference scheduled for next month.
US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton last week urged Zuma, during an 11-day visit to Africa, that he must help accelerate progress in Zimbabwe’s finalisation and adoption of the constitution through a credible referendum to be followed by a free and fair election monitored by the international community.
The proposed draft constitution is expected to lay the foundation for future credible elections and foster general political stability.
Zanu PF is objecting to proposed constitutional changes to provisions on devolution of power, citizenship, running mates for presidential candidates, the whittling down of presidential powers and the strengthening of Parliament.
The party is also unhappy with the proposed separation of powers between the envisaged National Prosecuting Authority and the attorney general’s office. The two MDC parties want the referendum, tentatively scheduled for October, to approve the proposed document — leading to free and fair polls.
The draft imposes caps on the presidential term of 10 years and allows for the prosecution of the Head of State after leaving office. Yesterday’s talks were held under the ambit of the Troika whose other member states are Zambia, Tanzania and Troika chair South Africa.
It is a follow-up to the June Sadc Summit in Angola which asked the Troika to ensure Zimbabwe completes preparations for a fresh poll within 12 months.
Apart from the stalled constitution, yesterday’s talks were meant to discuss the implementation of a path forward after a deadlock in the election roadmap over security sector reforms, staffing of the Zimbabwe Election Commission and demilitarisation of political processes. Daily News
To help maintain editorial independence Nehanda Radio relies on donations from readers like you. No donation is too small or too big. Help by donating to fund our operations.