SADC has recommended that Zimbabwe concludes all outstanding GPA issues and hold fresh elections within 12 months, state radio reported Friday.
The recommendation by the regional body’s Troika on Politics, Defence and Security effectively blocks President Robert Mugabe’s push for the elections to be held before year-end.
The Troika met in the Angolan capital Luanda Friday to discuss the political situation in Zimbabwe and other regional hotspots such as Madagascar.
South African President Jacob Zuma, the SADC facilitator for Zimbabwe, chaired the meeting which was also and attended by Zambian President Michael Sata, Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, who represented President Jakaya Kikwete, as well as host President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
The ZBC quoted Finance Minister and MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti as saying parties to the coalition government had been given a deadline of June 2013 for the holding of new elections.
President Mugabe reportedly told regional leaders that he does not have the constitutional mandate to extend the life of the current Parliament which expires in March next year.
According to the ZBC, Mugabe said outstanding GPA issues should be resolved this year and “stressed that Zimbabweans are expecting elections sooner rather than later”.
Mugabe’s partners however, welcomed the Troika recommendations with MDC negotiator Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga saying they were satisfied with SADC’s position.
The Zanu PF leader had lobbied hard for SADC’s endorsement of his push for new elections this year, sending Vice President John Nkomo as well as Ministers Emmerson Mngangagwa and Sydney Sekeramayi with special messages to several regional leaders ahead of the Angola meeting.
Mugabe wants new elections to replace the coalition government arguing the arrangement had been rendered unworkable by policy and other differences between the parties.
But his rivals say political reforms, that include the writing a new constitution, must be completed first to ensure a credible ballot.