SADC Leaders to Review Political Situation in Zimbabwe

Posted on January 6, 2012 | Category: Politics; Business, Sport

The Southern African Development Community or SADC is set to hold an extraordinary summit next month to review the political situation in the region focusing on Zimbabwe, Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo, sources said.

Political commentators say the forthcoming summit explains why President Robert Mugabe has been calling for a concerted nationwide effort by all the political parties to end violence and reform of the police work ethic in election times.

They say that Mr. Mugabe wants something to show to convince regional leaders, weary of Zimbabwe’s protracted political crisis that Harare has turned the corner and can organize fair elections. Mr. Mugabe says those elections should be held this year.

SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao says the dates of the summit will be set during the African Union summit starting January 21 through 28 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He said the region’s hotspots, including Zimbabwe are on the agenda, and regional leaders will seek way forward.

Spokeswoman Lindiwe Zulu for South African President Jacob Zuma and a member of the SADC facilitation team tasked with finding a lasting solution to the Zimbabwe crisis, told VOA’s Blessing Zulu that her boss will table a comprehensive report at the summit.

Local civic groups led by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition will be lobbying the AU as well as SADC for reforms in Harare. Crisis Coalition Regional Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga said African leaders must not allow another sham election similar to the one held in 2008.

Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe’s promotion of a top army general who described Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as a security threat fronting Western interests has torched off a storm.

Mugabe promoted Douglas Nyikayaramba, a Brigadier-General in the Zimbabwe National Army, to the rank of Major General just before going on his annual vacation to the Far East two weeks ago.

Nyikayaramba, who has threatened to block the political transition if the incumbent veteran President loses the forthcoming watershed presidential poll, has been transferred to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces headquarters where he is now working as chief of staff quartermaster ostensibly.

Observers say the promotion is typical of Mugabe’s patronage system, suggesting that Nyikayaramba is being rewarded for his role in taking care of the veteran ruler’s interests.

The move has aroused a storm of indignation and denunciation, with many questioning Nyikayaramba’s fitness to hold such a rank given his chequered history.

Settlement Chikwinya, the MDC Mbizo legislator who last year tabled a motion in Parliament on security sector reforms following Nyikayaramba’s outburst that the army was justified in dabbling in Zimbabwean politics, told the Daily News yesterday that the promotion was an infamy.

He said Nyikayaramba, buoyed by the show of confidence in him by Mugabe, was poised to go overboard with his ootlicking.

“He will obviously up his zeal, elongate his tongue to lick Mugabe right into the rectum,” Chikwinya said.

A strict disciplinarian, Nyikayaramba has said Tsvangirai will never rule Zimbabwe, adding that Mugabe must be allowed to die in office.

“President Mugabe will only leave office if he sees it fit or dies. No one should be talking about his departure at the moment. We will die for him to make sure he remains in power,” Nyikayaramba has said.

He has also categorically stated that military leaders were against any party other than Zanu PF to rule the country.

Drawing from their experience of fighting in the country’s liberation war, some senior army officers see themselves as the guardians of Zimbabwean independence.

Nyikayaramba has also joined the Zanu PF chorus, insisting on elections this year to end the power-sharing government that has been wrecked by internal wrangling and sharp disagreements on policy.

Tsvangirai, far from facing down the military commanders, has said the threats reinforce his call for security sector reforms.

Tsvangirai has appealed to regional leaders to persuade Mugabe to allow for wide democratic security sector reforms before elections, but political analysts believe he will only concede ground if there is threat of regional isolation.

The Daily News understands it is one of the matters set down for the forthcoming Sadc summit expected to be convened after the January 21 African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera said Nyikayaramba’s promotion shows how deeply embedded in politics the Zimbabwe military is.

“Nyikayaramba was promoted simply because of his praise-singing of Mugabe and his denigrating of Morgan Tsvangirai,” Mangongera told the Daily News.

“His promotion sends the wrong signal to other serving officers that dabbling in politics will earn you some stripes. The Zimbabwean public seriously doubts the impartiality of some of the senior security personnel and the promotion of Nyikayaramba will be viewed by many as a slap in the face of those calling for security sector reform,” he said.

The security chiefs — veterans of the bush guerrilla war against Ian Smith’s brutal white regime in the 1970s that brought Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 — have declared open support for Mugabe.

Many acknowledge that this is a formidable obstacle to Tsvangirai’s bid for the Zimbabwean presidency.

The MDC has been unequivocal in reassuring security forces that they have nothing to fear from a change of government if they remain “professional”.

But the unbending service chiefs have continued to issue tough statements ahead of the crunch ballot backing Mugabe and denouncing Tsvangirai and his party as “puppets and running dogs” of Western countries. They have also stated that they will not accept the MDC leader’s victory.

Political analysts say the political transition did not require the security officials’ acquiescence if the people have elected a leader of their choice even if that leader lacks liberation war credentials like Tsvangirai.

Blessing Vava, spokesman of the National Constitutional Assembly said: “Obviously he is being rewarded for the wonderful work he did for Mugabe ridiculing Tsvangirai and the MDC.”

“Mugabe wants to use him to direct operations in the elections using the army, remember he played a pivotal role in rigging elections for Zanu PF during his time as the CEO of the Electoral Supervisory Commission.”

During the 2005 legislative vote, Nyikayaramba was the chief elections officer for the Electoral Supervisory Commission.

And following Mugabe’s loss in the historic March 2008 presidential vote, Nyikayaramba was placed in charge of a “national command centre” in the capital, Harare, which became the headquarters of the electoral machinery.

It took five weeks to announce results with the MDC alleging the national command centre tinkered with the results to fit the matrix of a presidential run-off election.

Following Mugabe’s widely condemned re-election, Nyikayaramba was richly rewarded with a hefty promotion to run the 3 Infantry Brigade in Mutare, which crucially oversees the lucrative diamond fields in Chiadzwa.

Prior to his promotion to 3 Infantry, Nyikayaramba was Commander of the 2 Brigade headquarters at Old Cranborne Barracks in Harare.

He has now been promoted again ahead of a crucial vote that Mugabe wants this year.

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