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Zambia’s President Calls For Emergency SADC Meeting Over Zimbabwe

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa is calling for an emergency meeting of all Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of State and government to discuss Zimbabwe’s post-election impasse. Twelve days after general elections, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has failed to release the rest of the presidential election results. Mwanawasa, who is also the current chairman of SADC, said there was a need to help find a solution to the brewing political tension in Zimbabwe.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the election, saying the delay in releasing the results is a calculated attempt to rig the results in favor of incumbent President Robert Mugabe. But the ruling ZANU-PF party has dismissed the accusation, saying it was preparing for an election run-off.

Gordon Moyo is the executive director of the Bulawayo project, a non-governmental civic organization. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the commercial capital, Bulawayo that SADC has the perfect opportunity to make things right in Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabweans are currently sitting on powder keg, which can explode at anytime. Therefore, it is important for the SADC to respond immediately before the explosion in Zimbabwe. What Mwanawasa is attempting to do is plausible, and it is encouraging that the regional body is beginning to develop the bite. We are hoping that the regional leaders within the SADC will put pressure on Robert Mugabe to release the electoral results. Not just to release the results, but to release the results that depict the will of the people as they voted on 29 March 2008,” Moyo pointed out.

He said although some criticisms have been leveled against SADC, Zimbabweans are hopeful that regional leaders will help solve the prevailing political crisis.

“Sure, I was one of the people who was very critical of the SADC mediation process between MDC and ZANU-PF, and I’m very critical of the mechanisms within SADC to resolve conflicts within the region. But I’m very happy about the step that Levy Mwanawasa is taking to say lets meet, lets make a statement, lets look at the issues before the crisis prevail in Zimbabwe. Already the signs of crisis are emerging. The fact that everybody in the country is anxious and there is no information that is coming from Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. So SADC, by calling for a meeting itself I think is the right step, what is left to be seen is what are they going to discuss,” he said.

Moyo described the mood in Zimbabwe over the post-election political crisis as anxious.

“I can tell you that Zimbabweans are very anxious at the moment. And my feeling is that Mugabe would want Zimbabweans to go out into the streets. Mugabe is stretching the patience of the people, and his idea is that once the people stand up to challenge him he is going to immediately declare a state of emergency in the country. And that state of emergency is not going to last for 21 days, but would last for 12 months or even more, and then he can rule by decree,” Moyo noted.