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06/03/2012 00:00:00
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
Fire fighting ... President Jacob Zuma
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SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma is expected in Harare over the next few days after his foreign affairs minister touched off a storm by declaring that new elections could only be held once work on a new constitution is completed.

SA government officials told VOA news that Zuma – who is mediating in Zimbabwe on behalf of the regional SADC grouping – would shortly travel to Harare for talks on an “election road” map and other GPA issues.

Zuma’s visit could also be aimed at smothering fires stoked by his Foreign Affairs Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane who dismissed demands by President Robert Mugabe for new polls without reforms his rivals say are required under the country's unity deal.

Mugabe and his Zanu PF party want elections held this year with or without the new constitution, frustrated by delays in completing work on the new charter.

The veteran Zanu PF leader says fresh polls are needed to replace the coalition government claiming the arrangement is no longer workable because of policy disagreements with his partners.

But Maite Nkoana-Mashabane sparked a furious reaction from Zanu PF when she appeared to side with Mugabe’s rivals by insisting Monday that political reforms must be completed before elections can be held.

"The GPA envisages that an election in Zimbabwe will only be held following the finalisation of the constitution-making process … Our government therefore, expect that there would be no deviation from the provisions of the GPA," Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Zanu PF officials immediately accused her of “gross interference” in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.

Said party spokesman, Rugare Gumbo: “South Africa can’t dictate to Zimbabwe what to do.

“All we have is a mediator who is a South African. South Africa has nothing to do with Zimbabwe.”

Politburo member Jonathan Moyo added: “The South African government is not a GPA facilitator, this woman (Nkoana-Mashabane) as an official of the South African government has no business whatsoever commenting on this thing.

“Zimbabwe has never been a province of South Africa, is not a province of South Africa and will never be a province of South Africa.”

President Mugabe also warned last month that Zuma could be replaced as SADC mediator if he continues to block new elections in the country.


Zuma tinokwanisa kumuramba masikati machena (we can reject Zuma very easily). Takatomuudza izvozvo tikati aiwa (we have since told him that) we are not forced to, but we don't want to do that, tinoda kunzwanana,” Mugabe said in interviews leading up to his 88th birthday last month.

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