By Tichaona Sibanda
The MDC-T has embarked on a new diplomatic offensive to galvanise support from the region, for the far-reaching legislative reforms needed in Zimbabwe before elections can be held.
The country will again be the focus of attention at next week’s SADC summit in Luanda, Angola, at which regional leaders will discuss the ongoing political crisis blocking implementation of the GPA and election roadmap.
Tensions between the parties that signed the GPA have continued to rise, fuelled recently by calls from Robert Mugabe to go for elections with or without a new constitution. The former ruling ZANU PF party is pushing for elections to be held in December this year, while both formations of the MDC want the poll held in March next year.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has in the last month sent the party’s International Relations secretary, Jameson Timba, on a political and diplomatic offensive ahead of the Luanda summit.
Timba, has quietly been engaging SADC Heads of State and providing them with a first-hand account of their concerns over holding elections without the necessary reforms. He is also raising regional awareness of the direction Zimbabwe is heading under the inclusive government.
Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has also been on a diplomatic offensive in the region, pushing SADC to endorse Mugabe’s early election plan. It is expected that the leaders will review a progress report by South African President Jacob Zuma, assigned by the regional grouping to facilitate the inter-party talks in Zimbabwe.
Zuma’s facilitation team is expected in Harare next week to check on progress made by the unity government in drawing up an election roadmap, particularly the constitutional drafting process that has dragged on three years behind schedule.
COPAC, the body spearheading the drafting of a new charter is under pressure to speed up the constitutional reforms which have been held back by constant haggling between the political parties.
But once completed, the constitution will be put to a national referendum leading to general elections to end the coalition government formed following disputed elections in 2008.
MDC-T Youth Assembly secretary general, Promise Mkwananzi told us that he’s doubtful SADC will agree to Mugabe’s plan to hold elections without addressing the root causes of the country’s political problems.
‘I don’t see SADC succumbing to ZANU PF pressure. In fact they should take a principled role and stand by their earlier decision to demand reforms before an election can be held in Zimbabwe. Otherwise anything other than that will risk creating a deeper crisis,’ Mkwananzi said. SW Radio Africa