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South Africa's Jacob Zuma Moves to Finalize Zimbabwe Elections Road Map

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma

ZANU-PF hardliners want the road map to lead to elections this year - though Mr. Zuma and other SADC officials have indicated they don't consider this a good idea as the country is not ready

Zimbabwe mediator and South African President Jacob Zuma summoned negotiators for the power-sharing parties in Harare to Pretoria on Friday to finalize the road map to the next Zimbabwean elections for presentation to a regional summit in Angola next week.

An aide to Mr. Zuma said he is pressing on with the road map despite objections by both President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change - though for very different reasons in each case.

Mr. Zuma is to report on his progress in Zimbabwe mediation to his fellow leaders of the Southern African Development Community meeting in summit Tuesday in Luanda.

ZANU-PF hardliners want the road map to lead to elections this year - though Mr. Zuma and other SADC officials have indicated they don't consider this a good idea.

The Tsvangirai MDC formation has expressed grave concerns about the environment for elections, saying Zimbabwe's military and other security forces must be reformed before elections to level the playing field. The former opposition party also wants assurances from SADC that international monitors will be in place before and after a ballot.

But ZANU-PF has resisted those demands, especially security sector reforms.

South African facilitation team spokeswoman Lindiwe Zulu said Pretoria will not address calls for road map revisions made informally by Zimbabwean parties that have not been tabled by their negotiators, and that talks will continue to refine the road map.

Spokesman Nhlanhla Dube of the MDC formation headed by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said his party expects SADC to endorse the election road map despite the objections raised by the other parties in the national unity government.

Political analyst Phillan Zamchiya said the real crisis is with Mr. Mugabe.

Meanwhile, Angola refused entry Thursday to civil society activists of the SADC Council of Non-Governmental Organizations and Mozambican journalists who flew into Luanda seeking to attend a civil society forum on the margins of the regional summit.

The groups had issued some statements critical of SADC's record on human rights.

Civil society sources said some groups which had intended to head to Luanda Friday have canceled their flights fearing they will also be refused entry at the airport.

Abie Dithlake, secretary general of the SADC Council of NGO Organizations said the group appealed to SADC alleging mistreatment by Angolan authorities.

Political analyst Gladys Hlatshwayo called Luanda's move shocking and shameful.

Elsewhere, leaders of liberation movements in the Southern African region who were meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, concluded their summit calling on the West to lift sanctions aimed at President Mugabe and other top ZANU-PF officials.

In a communiqué, the liberation movements called the sanctions “subversive acts” intended to economically sabotage Zimbabwe.

Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba urged his colleagues, including Mr. Mugabe, not to forget the ideals of their struggles against white minority rule. He said Southern Africa should fight poverty through indigenous ownership of natural resources.

Political analyst Psychology Maziwisa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the liberation movements are right in supporting Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF and insisting on the removal of so-called targeted sanctions against the president and his party.

But Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director Mcdonald Lewanika told VOA that while the liberation movements are free to support and stand by President Mugabe and ZANU-PF they cannot impose leaders on the people of Zimbabwe.

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