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Southern Africa Region Slams Mugabe

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (2nd L) arrives at the SADC (Southern African Development Community) troika summit in Livingstone, Zambia, March 31, 2011
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (2nd L) arrives at the SADC (Southern African Development Community) troika summit in Livingstone, Zambia, March 31, 2011

The regional Southern African Development Community or SADC has delivered a sharp rebuke to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and expressed disappointment at the lack of progress in implementing the global political agreement which is the foundation stone of the two-year-old inclusive government.

The SADC also decided to call for an extra ordinary summit on Madagascar.

The so-called Organ on Peace and Security comprising the leaders of three countries in the southern Africa region handed out stinging criticism of the inclusive Zimbabwe government’s progress.

South African president, Jacob Zuma, SADC’s mediator on Zimbabwe, expressed "grave concern" about the resurgence of political violence, arrests and intimdation and demanded an immediate end to it.

The SADC leaders communique strongly rebuked Zimbabwean leaders for the continuing stalemate and said they will appoint regional officials who will monitor progress towards free and fair elections.

Though it did not single out any of the Zimbabwean parties for blame, independent human rights groups have directly criticized Mr Mugabe’s ZanuPF party for a resurgence of political violence, arrests and intimidation.

Mr. Mugabe’s police have recently arrested Energy Minister Elton Mangoma of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change(MDC) party and other officials and have threatened to arrest Mr. Tsvangirai himself.

The police have also banned rallies by Mr. Tsvangirai’s MDC and the smaller MDC led by Welshman Ncube. Both leaders and Mr. Mugabe were at the meeting in the Zambian resort town, Livingstone Thursday.

Zimbabwe political analyst Brian Raftopoulos said the SADC communique and committment was far stronger than usual, and that he was encouraged by its commitment to insisting on the full implementation of the multi party global political agreement, or GPA.

"I think this is a real breakthrough for the democratic forces in Zimbabwe....issues around the violence around the full implementation of the GPA around preparations for free and fair elections," said Raftopoulos.

South Africa has a team of three mediators who regularly visit Zimbabwe to check on implementation of the political agreement. SADC decided Thursday to back them up with a small presence of SADC personnel in Zimbabwe.

"Most importantly is the inclusion of a monitoring team from SADC to have a semi permanent presence in Zimbabwe and be able to evaluate and report back," he said.

Mr. Mugabe has been pushing to hold elections this year, but a new constitutution will only be ready for a referendum in Setpember, and most political analysts now believe the next polls will be held in March, 2012.

The summit also considered the political crisis in Madagascar which has been suspended from SADC because of a military coup in March 2009 which ousted elected President Marc Ravalomanana and installed the current leader Andry Rajoelina.

SADC has also been mediating there under former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano who recently proposed a "Roadmap" to guide the country back to new free and fair elections and constitutional order.

But the political parties of Ravalomanana and two other former presidents, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, rejected the roadmap because they said it would leave Mr. Rajoelina as president with too much power during the transition.

The three leaders said Mr. Rajoelina had violated even the terms of the unacceptable road map in his recent decision to appoint a prime minister and cabinet ministers without consulting other parties.

The SADC Troika summit in Livingstone Thursday decided to refer the Malagasy crisis to an extraordinary full summit of SADC which would be convened urgently.