Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma is expected to inform the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) next weekend that the four-year
facilitation process, which he headed, is over, following the conclusion of
A source close to the process told City Press: "As far as
South Africa is concerned, we have ended mediation in Zimbabwe."
SADC heads of state will gather for a two-day summit in
Lilongwe, Malawi on Saturday where they will focus on the recent elections.
President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, who heads the SADC
organ that was concerned with Zimbabwe, is due to present the regional observer
mission’s final report.
Almost 600 observers from the region monitored the
Based on the report, South Africa will officially be
released from its mediation task, the source said. The regional body is also
expected to lobby Western countries like Britain and the US to drop sanctions
against Zimbabwe as part of a plan to help its economic recovery.
"We want to keep Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe and the country
must be able to feed its people. If there are sanctions, it leads to more
people fleeing because of the economic conditions," he said.
Britain and the US questioned the validity of the elections
soon after Robert Mugabe’s re-election was announced last Saturday.
The final SADC report, the source said, is set to focus on
how elections were peaceful and free.
There will be less emphasis on problems with the fairness of
the process, which SADC questioned in its preliminary report released late last
The summit is set to conclude "the elections have been fair
and peaceful and?.?.?.?reflect the will of the people", said the source.
"The [summit’s] final statement will say something to the
effect that all parties must give the internal processes a chance to run their
course. No external audit of the elections will be accepted by SADC," he said.
Botswana is the only country in the 14-member body that has
called for an audit, but it is most likely to be overruled.
Jakkie Cilliers, the executive director at the Institute for
Security Studies, said Zuma had enough domestic challenges and would be happy
to let go of his facilitation role.
"Nobody in the region has the time and energy to invest in
this issue any longer," Cilliers said.
He said Zuma had built an alliance of nations in the region
to help keep the country in check.
SADC and the African Union, which has also given the
election a preliminary thumbs up despite concerns, "always choose stability
over democracy and they have done so again", Cilliers said. He said an external
challenge of Zimbabwe’s election results could cause instability in the country
and the region.
"It is, in a sense, a reflection of reality more than it is
a choice, given the challenge that you face of an obstructionist leader who
holds on to power by any means."
Former president Thabo Mbeki, who helped Zimbabwe broker the
Global Political Agreement in 2008 that led to a unity government, on Monday
told students at his African Leadership Institute that Zimbabweans had the
right to "self-determination".
"There has been a sustained campaign before the [Zimbabwe]
elections to discredit them before they happen," Mbeki said.
Concerns in SADC's report
»?The timing of the elections date and the tight deadlines
in the run-up;
»?The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s readiness to conduct
the harmonised elections;
»?Short time frames for voter registration;
»?Chaos during the special vote 10 days before the
»?Difficulties in accrediting some observers;
»?The voters’ roll was only made available at the last
»?2?million (35% of the total) extra ballot papers were
printed, more than the international standard;
»?Hate speech; and
»?Funding of the elections.
- City Press