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President Zuma's last-minute visit before the SADC summit - Bill Watch 38/2012
August 16, 2012

SADC Facilitator President Zuma’s Visit

SA President Zuma, the SADC appointed mediator/facilitator visited Harare on 15th August, flying in late afternoon and leaving again late that night. He met party leaders President Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Professor Ncube separately in Harare during the evening. This was a hasty last-minute visit before the meeting of the SADC Summit in Maputo. It was long awaited, as President Zuma had been expected several times since the SADC Luanda Summit of 1st June tasked him to assist the GPA parties to develop an implementation mechanism and set out time frames for the full implementation of Zimbabwe’s Roadmap to Elections. His proposed visits were repeatedly put off by the Zimbabwean side, but this time President Zuma insisted as he needed something to report to SADC.

President Zuma did not issue an official statement. He will report his findings to the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation on 16th August. The Organ does not usually issue statements but in turn reports to the Heads of State Meeting so an official statement/communiqué is unlikely before next Monday. He did, however, give a brief briefing to journalists and was reported as acknowledging both some movement forward and also “hitches”. [He described the hitches as “not major”, an assessment with which not everyone will agree.] President Zuma’s report to the Organ, and in turn the Organ’s report to the full Summit, will presumably be of only qualified progress.

SADC Summit, Maputo 17th and 18th August

The full Summit meeting is preceded by a meeting of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation scheduled for 16th August in the afternoon. On the agenda is a report from President Zuma on the situation in Zimbabwe. At this meeting Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete will take over from President Zuma as chairperson of the Organ. At the ceremonial opening of the Heads of State Meeting on 17th August, Mozambique President Armando Guebuza will take over from President dos Santos of Angola as SADC chairperson before business starts. President Zuma is expected to continue as SADC Facilitator for Zimbabwe. The Organ will report to the Heads of State meeting on the situation in Zimbabwe.

MDC Concerns to be Raised at the Summit

The MDCs will raise concerns at the SADC Summit, including:

  • ZANU-PF’s moves to have the COPAC final draft of the new constitution re-negotiated to incorporate substantial changes to provisions agreed by all party negotiators
  • ZANU-PF’s continued stalling over media, electoral and security sector reforms. They will cite last week’s ill disciplined disruptions by police and soldiers of the training for the 2012 Census as showing that Zimbabwe is not ready for free and fair elections until there is transformation in the security sector.

SADC Tribunal

The Summit has, as usual, been preceded by meetings of Ministers from the SADC countries. The Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General met in Luanda in June to finalise their report on the task assigned to them at the Luanda Summit of 19th May 2011 – to draw up legal instruments for the replacement of the suspended SADC Tribunal by establishing a new Tribunal with different jurisdiction and a new membership. They are due to report to the Summit in Maputo. Their proposal is reported to provide for a new Tribunal which will not have the human rights jurisdiction wielded by the suspended Tribunal. It is hoped that, in the face of campaigns from legal associations throughout SADC, the Summit will not revive an emasculated Tribunal.

It was one of the key purposes, when the SADC Tribunal was set up as an independent legal body, to ensure that every country within SADC respected and conformed to the principles and objectives enshrined in the SADC Treaty of 1992, including human rights and the rule of law. It was also to provide SADC citizens with a platform to seek justice and hold their governments to account when their human rights had been infringed and local legal remedies had been exhausted. To do away with this would be a retrogressive step and curtail trade and investment, and would be in adverse contrast with ECOWAS and EAC, whose courts of appeal have a clear mandate to adjudicate on human rights matters.

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