Beware of Zimbabwe fall-out, Civil society organisations warn

HARARE – Zimbabwean civil society organisations have warned that South Africa will stand to lose more if it does not act fast to pressure President Robert Mugabe to agree to put an end to the current military-led political “madness” in Zimbabwe. 

Southern African Development Community leaders are scheduled to meet on 11 June in Johannesburg for an extraordinary summit to discuss Zimbabwe’s troubled power-sharing agreement between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The summit is expected to discuss the report of a South African-led SADC facilitation team that has been mediating in the dispute. Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) has refused to implement the full provisions of the 2008 Global Political Agreement, including calls for the reform of the partisan security forces.

 Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, an umbrella body of more than 350 civic society organisations, said the recent police onslaught against human rights defenders and members of Tsvangirai’s MDC-T should serve to galvanise SADC to push Mugabe to agree to reforms of state institutions. “As SADC leaders meet their main focus should be on how to establish strong democratic institutions in Zimbabwe that do not pander to the whims of Zanu (PF),” said the Coalition’s coordinator, Dewa Mavhinga. He said this was an urgent matter that had ghastly implications for regional peace and stability, “especially when one considers current concerns regarding Mugabe’s age and health, and that there is no clear succession plan within his party.” He warned that the military vultures currently circling “are sure to plunge Zimbabwe into chaos should anything happen to Mugabe now”. Civic society’s calls for urgent security sector reforms were put into perspective last week when a hardline army officer Douglas Nyikayaramba told a local paper that the military would never allow anyone other than Mugabe to rule Zimbabwe – even if the ageing strongman were to lose the next elections.

“It is up to SADC to stop this madness. SADC must take the lead in writing a new narrative for Zimbabwe – one that breathes life and hope. If SADC fails Zimbabwe, it is South Africa that will carry the burden of chaos in Zimbabwe,” said Mavhinga. As the biggest regional economy, South Africa is the most obvious destination for potential Zimbabwean refugees should the political climate deteriorate any further. There are already more than two million Zimbabweans who fled to South Africa after Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis started in 2000. Calls for security sector reforms were also vindicated after last week’s indiscriminate arrest of a dozen suspected MDC-T supporters following the murder of a Zanu (PF)-aligned police officer in Harare. The police quickly placed blame on the MDC-T for the murder of the police inspector even before conducting thorough investigations.

South African President Jacob Zuma is expected to brief other SADC heads of state and government on progress on the ongoing mediation efforts by his team.The summit is expected to examine a proposed roadmap to Zimbabwe’s next elections as well as the rise in political violence, farm seizures and the unfulfilled GPA provisions.


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