October 31, 2008 at 8:58 am Leave a comment

moyos The call for African leaders to take action in resolving the political impasse between Robert Mugabe (on the left) and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai (on the right) is slowly growing in volume; this as the date and venue of the emergency summit of all the SADC leaders on the Zimbabwe political crisis is yet to be confirmed.

The SADC troika on politics, security and defense failed on Monday to resolve the stalemate over the allocation of key cabinet ministries – in particular the Home Affairs Ministry which controls the highly politicised national police force. The troika then referred the matter to a full summit of the 14-nation regional grouping, to take place within the next fortnight. It’s widely believed the meeting will take place in South Africa, which holds the chairmanship of the regional bloc.

But as the wait continues, the ongoing deadlock between the political rivals is finally ringing alarm bells, as millions of Zimbabweans continue to suffer in a country devastated by economic and humanitarian turmoil. The UN’s shock assessment that almost half the population will face starvation by January has not prompted any form of change on the part of the politicians, while regional leaders have also not used their considerable weight to put an end to the growing humanitarian disaster.

In response to the impasse UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged African leaders on Wednesday to take “decisive” action to end the deadlock and told reporters in the Philippines that the power-sharing process “has been taking too long.” He added: “I sincerely hope that President Mugabe will no longer disappoint the international community,” and said Mugabe “should meet” international expectations.

At the same time, in a statement released on Wednesday, the US State Department said the 21 African leaders who witnessed the signing of Zimbabwe’s power sharing deal, have a responsibility to ensure the impasse is resolved as a matter of urgency. The State Department’s spokesperson, Sean McCormack said in the statement: “We urge African leaders to work with the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, and the United Nations to address the urgent needs of the Zimbabwean people.” “We condemn the Mugabe regime’s refusal to implement a genuine and equitable power-sharing agreement and its continued use of violence against peaceful demonstrators,” the statement read.

The statement also echoed the concern of the UN’s Secretary General about the negative effect the impasse is having on the people of Zimbabwe, and said the US would “continue to provide food aid and other humanitarian assistance, to assist the people of Zimbabwe.”

Dr Lovemore Madhuku from the National Constitutional Assembly said on Thursday that he doubts whether any regional grouping or international grouping would be able to influence the impasse. He said that SADC “does not have the power to change the situation, only the power to make recommendations that will likely only aid Mugabe.” Madhuku also argued that Mugabe will not feel any pressure if the talks move to higher bodies such as the UN. “Mugabe will not suffer anything, because as far as most groups are concerned, he has moved by agreeing to power share in the first place,” Madhuku said. “I doubt therefore that the UN will have any power over him.”

Meanwhile, despite no agreement being reached over the allocation of ministries for a power sharing government, a South African delegation is in Harare to discuss implementing a R300 million aid package put together to assist Zimbabwe with farming inputs. South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel last week announced the package in his mid-term budget to Parliament and it has since been endorsed by President Kgalema Motlanthe. According to the government mouthpiece Herald newspaper on Thursday, the South African team arrived in Harare on Monday for consultations with their Zimbabwean counterparts.

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki pledged to assist Zimbabwe with inputs soon after he brokered the power sharing agreement, that has so far done little to bring about change. The seemingly unconditional R300 million aid package, which is set to be controlled and distributed by the still firmly entrenched Mugabe government, appears to be yet another signal that South Africa’s leaders support Mugabe, no matter what the outcome of his brutal leadership. – SwRadioAfrica


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