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Southern African Mediators to Assist Zimbabwe's Election Preparations

South Africa, which mediates the Zimbabwe crisis on behalf of the Southern African Development Community or SADC, says a small regional team arrives in Harare in the next two weeks to help establish conditions for free and fair elections.

Lindiwe Zulu, President Jacob Zuma’s international advisor, and part of his Zimbabwe mediation team, said Thursday that the last hurdles had been cleared for establishment of this oversight mission.

Lindiwe Zulu said there had been several hitches and inefficiencies in establishing this three-person regional team to assist in the three-year-old political agreement which brought the inclusive government to power in Zimbabwe.

In March a summit of the three-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) decided that a permanent group was needed in Harare to assist the Joint Operations and Implementation Committee known as Jomic.

The three-person team is now being sent to Harare to help Jomic and set the stage for elections.

However, President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party objected to SADC’s decision to send the team saying its sovereignty was threatened.

It demanded terms of reference for the mission, which had to be negotiated, but Lindiwe Zulu said the way was now cleared for the team to begin work in about two weeks and she hoped that in time this team would be expanded to include more people from SADC countries.

“So when the three starts the work with Jomic it will be based on those terms of reference. Let us have more people from SADC who will reinforce the process, reinforce us as a facilitation team,” she said.

Zulu said that there are still grey areas in implementation of the political agreement to ensure Zimbabwe never again has elections as in 2008 when hundreds were killed. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democrat Change party narrowly won that election.

She said that SADC, which guaranteed the political agreement, should become ever more involved in the long road to Zimbabwe’s next elections.

“As we move closer to the issues of elections for instance, we need to even have more people from the SADC who are going to be able to assist and make sure ultimately SADC itself is comfortable not just leaving it to South Africa, but it’s an addition, and the more hands you have the better in this situation,” said Zulu.

Mugabe says he wants elections next March but most political analysts believe implementation of the political agreement, which includes substantial electoral and political reforms, means there will be no elections until at least 2013.