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Following Southern African Summit on Zimbabwe, Harare Parties Spin Statement


There was something for everyone in the Southern African Development Community summit communiqué: President Mugabe was unscathed, and his opposition received a policy boost from regional leaders

Heads of state of the Southern African Development Community who met in summit this weekend in Johannesburg to discuss Zimbabwe seemed to be at pains not to appear to be admonishing President Robert Mugabe as the organization's troika on politics, defense and security in effect did in a March meeting in Livingstone, Zambia.

SADC leaders in their summit communiqué "noted" the findings of the Livingstone troika meeting - including an admonition to President Mugabe to halt rising political violence and pick up the pace of reform - but did not formally adopt them.

Yet the summit in the posh Sandton section of Johannesburg did incorporate most of the substance of the so-called Livingstone troika meeting into its final statement, VOA Studio 7 correspondent Benedict Nhlapho reported from South Africa.

The studiously neutral language of the SADC communiqué lent itself to spinning.

Back in Harare, both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change said they were pleased with the SADC statement. So did President Robert Mugabe.

Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that it was important that SADC "noted" the Livingstone troika report written by South African President Jacob Zuma.

Speaking for the MDC formation of Welshman Ncube, Nhlanhla Dube said his party is pleased that the summit “cemented the Livingstone findings.”

Officials of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF refused to comment saying they would only do so after the party’s leadership had discussed the summit outcome Monday evening.

But President Mugabe told the pro-ZANU-PF Herald newspaper that he was happy with the outcome. The newspaper interpreted the SADC communiqué as stating that SADC had "rejected" the Livingstone resolutions, a claim challenged by MDC officials.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi of ZANU-PF told the Herald that the summit merely noted the conclusions reached in Livingstone in late March, and did not endorse those conclusions and recommendations as the MDC had hoped.

Nonetheless, there was something for everyone in the SADC summit: President Mugabe was unscathed, and his opposition received a policy boost from SADC leaders.

Senior law lecturer Alex Magaisa of Kent Law School in London told Ntungamili Nkomo that in noting the Livingstone resolutions SADC leaders in effect adopted them.

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