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South African Envoys in Harare, Push For Political Reforms

  • Blessing  Zulu

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa

Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediator in Zimbabwe, South African president Jacob Zuma, has dispatched envoys to Harare to push for political reforms and to assess the political situation ahead of the constitutional referendum on Saturday.

The envoys’ mission follows a SADC summit of the troika of the organ on politics, defence and security cooperation in Pretoria last weekend, when the body decided to back Mr. Zuma’s mediation efforts in Zimbabwe. SADC is urging Harare to implement media, security and electoral law reforms.

Speaking with VOA, SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomao confirmed the SADC position.

Lindiwe Zulu, spokesperson for the envoys and international relations advisor to Mr. Zuma, said they are continuing to push for the election roadmap to be implemented.

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute board member Gladys Hlatwayo said regional leaders must not relent their attempts to resolve outstanding issues.

Meanwhile, international rights group, Amnesty International, says Harare must stop its clampdown against activists and protect constitutional rights during the referendum.

In a statement, Amnesty International said authorities should allow eligible civil society organizations to observe the process without harassment and intimidation.

Recent months have seen a clampdown on a number of civil society organizations that have been raided by the police and charged with offences ranging from causing malicious damage to property to smuggling shortwave radios into the country.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) this week said organizations facing police investigations would not be allowed to monitor the referendum.

Civic groups cleared to monitor the vote are meeting in Harare on Friday and will debate pulling out of the monitoring effort if ZEC does not accredit colleagues from the Zimbabwe Peace Project and ZimRights as observers.