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Southern African Summit on Zimbabwe Pushed Off to June in South Africa

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Official sources said a special summit to discuss problems in Zimbabwe’s power sharing government and the road to elections has been tentatively scheduled for June 11 in South Africa - but might be held June 20

Zimbabwe has been removed from the agenda of the Southern African Development Community summit opening on Friday in Namibia at the request of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, SADC mediator in Harare, who excused himself from the meeting.

Official sources said a special summit to discuss problems in Zimbabwe’s power sharing government and the road map to elections has been tentatively scheduled for June 11 in South Africa. But the sources added, it could alternatively be held on June 20.

Sources said President Zuma informed the SADC secretariat this week that he was preoccupied with the local government elections held on Wednesday in South Africa so that he would not be able to brief heads of state at the summit on Zimbabwe.

The summit was expected to examine a proposed road map to Zimbabwe's next elections among other issues including the rise in political violence this year, farm seizures and the unfulfilled provisions of the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing.

The SADC troika on politics, defense and security in April effectively rebuked President Robert Mugabe, urging him to curtail political violence and urgently institute democratic reforms called for under the GPA. The GPA laid the foundation for the unity government involving his ZANU-PF and the two Movement for Democratic Change formations.

SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao told VOA reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the complex of Zimbabwean political issues must await a SADC session when Mr. Zuma can be present. "Despite the removal of Zimbabwe from the agenda, the summit will still take place Friday and Mr. Mugabe has indicated he will attend," Salomao said.

He added that focus will be on regional trade and the so-called SADC Tribunal, which was harshly criticized by Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party after it ruled that farm seizures in Zimbabwe were illegal and discriminatory against white farmers. SADC suspended the Namibian-based tribunal in late 2010 pending a review of its functions.

Commenting, Zimbabwe Liberators Platform founder and trustee Wilfred Mhanda said that when SADC heads of state meet next month to discuss Zimbabwe, they should increase pressure on President Mugabe to implement the GPA in full.

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