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ACTSA News December 2010: Focus on Swaziland and Zimbabwe
Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA)
December 18, 2010

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Elections in Zimbabwe

Concerns are growing about progress towards possible elections in Zimbabwe in 2011, after violence in Harare forced officials to suspend public consultations on a new constitution. Prominent civil society groups have condemned the attacks by Zanu-PF supporters and appealed to the Government to ensure the consultation process proceeds peacefully. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has stated that he will not participate in an election if it is marred by conflict. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has also cast doubts on the country's readiness to hold a ballot, conceding that it is not adequately funded and needs time to update the electoral roll. The constitutional reform process is already a year behind schedule, but President Mugabe has indicated that elections will be held in 2011 whether or not the reforms are completed.

UN Women

The UN has created a new body to coordinate efforts to meet the needs of women across the world. The UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (to be known as UN Women) brings together a fragmented and under-funded group of UN bodies, including UNIFEM, in order to better address issues including women's political and economic empowerment, violence against women, and women's health.

Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has been appointed to the new Under-Secretary-General position.

South Africa to sign EPA with the EU

South Africa is likely to sign an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, after months of being on hold. Signing of the EPA by South Africa was delayed due to disagreements with neighbouring African countries as well as differences with the EU.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa's minister for international relations and co-operation, said "we can indeed conclude this EPA by the end of this year as long as they [the EU] do not bring new issues [to] the table." She also criticised the EU for negotiating with countries individually, despite the Southern African Customs Union being recognised as a bloc.

The EU had originally expected southern African countries to sign up to the controversial trade deals by the end of 2007, but due to a number of contentious clauses negotiations have been prolonged.

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