Zuma pushes for early election in Zimbabwe

Category: International
Published on Tuesday, 19 January 2010 02:14
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zumaHarare — SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma is now pushing Zanu PF and the two MDC formations to expedite the resolution of outstanding issues in time for the 2011 elections, amid growing impatience amongregional leaders and investors.

Zuma has been seized with the task of facilitating the resolution of issues that threaten the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which created the inclusive government.

Although nothing has been finalised on this proposal, Zuma's spokesperson Vincent Magwenya yesterday told The Standard that the South African leader wants elections next year.

Magwenya was speaking ahead of the resumption today of talks between
the three governing parties on the outstanding issues on the
implementation of the GPA.

"He (President Zuma) is looking forward to an election in 2011,"
Magwenya said. "That is not his proposal, but it is what the
Zimbabweans agreed.

"The parties must work really hard to implement the GPA so that by the
time of the elections in 2011, the situation is conducive."

In an interview with SAFM radio station in Johannesburg on Friday,
Zuma said the parties in the coalition should be flexible enough to
"move without resolving" some of the thorny issues around the key
appointments of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General
Johannes Tomana.

"Are these issues (Gono and Tomana) so fundamental that we cannot move
without resolving them? Can we park them and proceed?" said Zuma.

"I'm sure the Zimbabweans have to open up and look at the issues from
all angles," he said.

Magwenya said Zuma's proposal entailed evaluating the issues to see
whether or not their delayed resolution would affect the holding of elections.

"Evaluation has to be made on how critical those issues are ... are
those issues worth stalling the process (of holding the elections next
year)? He is not saying those issues have to be ignored," he said.

"What the President is simply saying is that if we get to elections
and there are still contentious issues that need to be resolved, those
will be evaluated to see whether they will affect the process."

The talks are scheduled to resume today, with pressure mounting on the
negotiators to reach an agreement and pave way for national
reconstruction.

Magwenya said Zuma's facilitation team of Mac Maharaj, Lindiwe Zulu
and Charles Nqakula will keep a close eye on the talks.

"In essence, Zuma is looking forward to a point where this process is
concluded," he added.

"The facilitation team is going to continue to appraise President Zuma
and President (of Mozambique, Armando) Guebuza.

"The President is saying let us implement those issues where there is
agreement. Our facilitation is to create a conducive environment for
the holding of elections."

But the MDC-T on Friday said there was no going back on their demand
to have "all the issues resolved".

Addressing a press conference in Harare, party spokesperson Nelson
Chamisa said they expected the process to resolve all issues currently
on the table.

"I am the least qualified to comment on what President Zuma says, but
we would want all issues resolved, as they are fundamental in our
view," Chamisa said.

"It is our view that these negotiations will bring all these issues to
finality so that we are able to move... If we fail to deal with all
the outstanding issues, the only option is to seek the guidance of our
guarantors (Sadc and the African Union)."

"The talks are simply about punctuating our signatures with action,
our colleagues (Zanu PF) are trying to run away from their
signatures," Chamisa said.

"We cannot continue to discuss these issues ad infinitum. All our
issues are fundamental and we hope they are going to be addressed
fully."

On the possibility of elections next year, Chamisa said "that is what
the GPA says", but the elections could only go ahead if the GPA is
fully implemented.

"Our view and hope is that free and fair elections will be held once
there is a conducive environment."

The coalition partners are still not coming out clearly on when the
next elections will be held with some quarters advocating for the
unity government to serve a full five-year term.

The five years would expire in 2013.

But others want an election as soon as a new constitution is in place.
At the earliest the new supreme law might be in place by early next
year.

President Robert Mugabe has in recent months also hinted at an early election

(Zimbabwe Standard)