Another Zimbabwe showdown set for SADC summit

14 August 2011 - 05:34 By SUNDAY TIMES CORRESPONDENT

Zimbabwe's rival leaders are set for yet another showdown at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit this week - because differences between the two on electoral and security sector reforms have worsened.

President Robert Mugabe, backed by hardliners in his Zanu-PF party and army generals, is refusing to implement reforms.

And with only days to go before this week's SADC summit in Angola, Mugabe and Tsvangirai have yet to agree on electoral reforms, including the composition of Zimbabwe's electoral commission, which is said to be full of Zanu-PF-aligned employees of the secret service.

They have also failed to agree on security sector reforms, with Mugabe announcing he would never allow the security structures to be overhauled.

However, this has not stopped Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change from taking the issue to parliament and calling on the military to stop interfering in civilian politics.

The MDC recently told a diplomatic briefing that they would raise the issue of security sector reforms with the SADC in the hopes Mugabe would be pushed to take action.

According to a briefing document, the MDC was "above all, concerned with the slow progress in the implementation of those issues that have already been agreed upon. Media reforms are a case in point". The MDC secretary for international affairs, Jameson Timba, told diplomats that other issues of concern included the continued arbitrary arrests of ministers from MDC formations and the harassment of others.

According to reports, Zanu-PF has been secretly angling to remove the issue of Zimbabwe from the summit agenda - and has tried to push for the replacement of President Jacob Zuma as facilitator, because of his no-nonsense attitude towards Mugabe and his hardliners.

But the SADC's executive secretary, Tomaz Salomao, said Zuma would continue as mediator.

Despite this setback, Zanu-PF officials told the Sunday Times that the party would employ its usual delaying tactics and frustrate discussions at the summit by bringing up the issue of sanctions.

A member of Zanu-PF's politburo said: "This summit is no different from the others. What you are saying is: 'Reform and lose power,' and that is unacceptable to the party.

"We are going to employ our usual tactics of frustrating everything, and we come up with no concrete resolution - as we have done in the past three years."

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