Negotiators for the three political parties in Zimbabwe's national unity government are close to completing a long-mooted road map to the next elections in the country amid pressure from the Southern African Development Community to finish the job.
SADC and South African sources involved said they had to read President Robert Mugabe’s former ruling ZANU-PF party the riot act after it continued to stall on reforms.
ZANU-PF hawks say just three tasks must be completed before new elections can be held: the completion of a draft constitution, a national referendum on that document and reform of the electoral process as agreed by unity government party negotiators.
Sources close to Wednesday's talks said issues on the agenda include guarantees of personal security for all Zimbabweans, an end to violence, creation of an accurate voters roll, redistricting along transparent and impartial lines and participation of SADC monitors from six months before elections to six months after the ballot, among others.
Particularly problematic is proposed reform of the national security establishment to prevent further abuses by the military, security agencies and youth militia. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, mediator for SADC in Harare, will present the road map to regional leaders in Namibia on May 20 at an extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
ZANU-PF sources say the party is worried SADC might isolate it
Furious at an unexpected rebuke at a SADC mini-summit early this month in Livingstone, Zambia, President Mugabe launched a sharp attack, accusing the regional body of trying to interfere in Zimbabwe's internal affairs. He contended that Mr. Zuma was just a facilitator to the dialog in Harare and "cannot prescribe anything.”
Such sentiments were echoed in in a full-page opinion piece by ZANU-PF Member of Parliament Jonathan Moyo, who suggested that Mr. Zuma wanted to use the road map to overthrow Mr. Mugabe in the same way the South African leader voted for last month’s United Nations Security Council resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.
ZANU-PF has now dispatched Vice President Joice Mujuru Pretoria to apologize to Mr. Zuma over attacks on him by party hardliners, sources said.
Even Mr. Mugabe has been back-pedaling from his attacks on SADC. Addressing thousands of people in a Harare stadium during the Independence Day celebrations on Monday, the president said he appreciates SADC’s role in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.
But ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said he knew nothing of an apology to Zuma.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Regional coordinator Dewa Mavhinga said a great deal remains to be done before elections can be held in Zimbabwe.