Wednesday, May 23, 2012
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe this week dispatched his defence and state security ministers with special messages to the leaders of Angola and Zambia in what could be a campaign to seek regional backing for elections this year.
Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa delivered a special message from Mugabe to Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos in Luanda on Monday. And on Tuesday State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi also met Zambia’s Michael Sata in Lusaka with another special message from Mugabe.
The contents of Mugabe’s communications were not disclosed.
But the Zanu PF leader considers the backing of the SADC region crucial as he presses for fresh polls this year.
SADC, whose point-man in the country is South African leader Jacob Zuma, facilitated the formation of the coalition government after the violent but inconclusive 2008 ballot and is helping negotiate a so-called roadmap to new polls.
Mugabe says the coalition government is no longer workable and is pressing for new elections this year to end the arrangement.
However, his rivals – with the apparent backing of Zuma – are demanding the full implementation of political reforms and claim a credible ballot is only viable early next year.
While the position of the rest of the SADC leaders remains unclear, Mugabe may, at least, count on the backing of Zambia’s Sata who, early this year, said there was no reason for delaying the elections.
Speaking in an interview with a British newspaper in January, Sata said: "You people, the Western countries, you taught us that democracy is elections. Now somebody wants elections and you say no.
"There will be elections and Mugabe will go (at some point) and someone else will take over, but not someone imposed by the Western countries."
Zimbabwe is currently writing a new constitution, as part of a raft of reforms the MDC formations want concluded before new elections.
“The ultimate deadline (for new elections) March 2013,” Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told Parliament last week.
“(But) we must go through these reforms very carefully; the Constitution, media reforms, political reforms, electoral reforms, national healing, and security sector alignment, economic reforms.
“This means seven types of reforms. These reforms require time and that time will determine when our elections will take place.”