News / Africa

Zimbabwe's Political Impasse High on SADC Agenda

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (C) and Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza (2nd L red tie) arrive with other regional leaders for a summit of the Southern African Development Community in Mozambique's capital Maputo, August 17, 2012.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (C) and Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza (2nd L red tie) arrive with other regional leaders for a summit of the Southern African Development Community in Mozambique's capital Maputo, August 17, 2012.
MAPUTO — The 15-member regional bloc known as the Southern African Development Community, or SADC, began meeting in the Mozambican capital, Maputo on Friday.  During the two-day meeting, heads of state will address several regional issues including Zimbabwe's ongoing political impasse.  SADC leaders are pressing Zimbabwe's leaders to agree on a draft constitution amid signs that President Robert Mugabe is unhappy with it. 

The sudden departure of South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, overshadowed the first day of the SADC summit.  Zuma decided to fly home Friday after labor unrest led to shootings and deaths at a platinum mine in his country on Thursday.
 
His departure highlighted the difficulty SADC leaders face - policing their peers when their domestic problems overshadow other regional conflicts.

As SADC mediator on Zimbabwe, Zuma's presence in Maputo was vital.  Nevertheless, Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC) said it hoped the SADC could pressure President Robert Mugabe, leader of the ZANU-PF party, to stick to seven resolutions, previously drawn up by the regional body, which were aimed at getting the country to agree on a new constitution and hold fresh elections next year.

The finance minister in Zimbabwe's fragile unity government, Tendai Biti of the MDC party, said he feared the SADC might leave space for further mediation on the issue of the draft constitution.

"Where there was some ambiguity, resolution Six says if there is a problem around the constitution then the facilitator will come in and intervene," he said. "That seems to anticipate that there will be a challenge given that the ZANU-PF politburo has already come up with an alternative draft constitution."

Meanwhile the SADC's newest conflict showed signs of a faster resolution.

Earlier this month, Tanzania said it was prepared to go to war with Malawi over the right to extract fuel from Lake Malawi, which both countries share.

Malawi's president, Joyce Banda, clearly stated before arriving at the summit she wanted peace. Officials from both countries are meeting on the margins of the conference.

Michael Sata made a joke about the spat. "And I was joking with Malawi and Tanzania to say if they started fighting we are going to welcome the refugees from Tanzania and Malawi but they cease fire before they even fired one bullet," said Sata.

Other problems, however, will prove more difficult for the 15-member bloc to resolve.  Those include the unfolding crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where fighting in the east has displaced a quarter of a million people, as well as the impasse in Madagascar, where ousted president Marc Ravalomanana wants to be able to return to contest elections.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mercury
August 18, 2012 9:44 AM
Difficult to believe the Zimbabwean situation is high on the SADC Agenda, given its past record and that of SADC. Pressing people to agree is a strange way to resolve this complex situation. Where was the "pressing" in 2008 to end the violence.?
Who was listening then?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid