Wednesday, August 15, 2007
By Mwala Kalaluka
Wednesday August 15, 2007 [04:00]
ZIMBABWE’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) vice-president Thokozani Khupe yesterday said that the SADC initiative led by South African President Thabo Mbeki towards resolving her country’s crisis was too slow. And the MDC has urged regional leaders to make provisions that will assist Zimbabwean refugees escaping economic and political harassment in that nation.
Addressing journalists at Techla Lodge in Lusaka, Khupe said while her party fully supported the regional mediation initiative, they were however concerned at the pace at which the process was taking.
“While we believe that the Zimbabwe crisis is an African problem, which has to and is capable of being resolved by Africans, in line with the noble idea of African solution to African problems, we are convinced that the process could move faster to give birth to agreements that could become practical facts on the ground cognizant of the expected Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in March 2008.”
Khupe said in other words the agreements reached at the SADC initiative must have enough time to be able to fundamentally affect and influence the political field prior to the March 2008 elections.
“For this to happen, the SADC initiative needs to be broader than it is now. The burden of such a critical issue as the Zimbabwean question cannot be put solely and exclusively on the shoulders of President Thabo Mbeki,” she noted. “We would appeal to SADC that the SADC mandate of mediation must be placed on more than one country.”
Khupe said despite the recent polarity in the MDC, which has two factions, there was need for regional leaders and Zimbabweans to advocate for an environment of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
“We have participated in elections since 2000, we participated in the 2003 and 2005 elections when we (MDC) were still united but we did not win those elections,” Khupe said. “For me it is not about these divisions. It is about what we are doing to create an environment for free and fair elections.”
She said there was need for the government to ensure that any player in the electoral participates in a process that was transparent other than being free and fair.
Commenting on the divisions within the MDC, the party’s secretary for international relations Professor Elophas Mukonoweshuro said such developments strengthened the principle of diversity within a democracy.
He said both factions were agreed and focused on one objective and that this hinged on their fight to remove an autocratic regime.
“It is diversity that makes democracy rich,” Prof Mukonoweshuro said. “For as long as the focus remains the same then the fight would not have been lost.”
Meanwhile, Khupe said the region would be judged harshly by history if it failed to act when it possesses the capacity to do so.
“We continue to hope that SADC will act quickly and decisively to avert a complete catastrophe of unimagined proportions in Zimbabwe,” she said. “It is not too late for SADC and all democratic forces to act.”
Khupe said the only way regional nations receiving an influx of Zimbabwean refugees would avoid their social services being strained was through ensuring that the refugees are given the necessary attention as provided for in the various SADC and international protocols on refugees.