MDC-T secretary general, Tendai Biti has described the Sadc meeting in Angola as “probably the most important post-GNU summit” adding the regional body had made it clear that new elections could not be held without political reforms.
Parties to the coalition government travelled to the Angolan capital, Luanda last week divided over the timing of new elections although they broadly agree that policy and other divisions have rendered the unity administration virtually unworkable.
President Robert Mugabe had hoped Sadc would endorse his push for new elections to go ahead this year even if political reforms that include the writing of a new constitution are not completed in time.
But Biti told the weekly Standard newspaper that Sadc had tasked its Zimbabwe facilitator, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, with directly ensuring the implementation of all outstanding GPA issues.
He said the troika meeting told coalition parties to implement all agreed electoral, political, security sector and media reforms over the next twelve months adding Zuma would soon travel to Harare to give the process a new impetus.
Biti said under the new Sadc timeframe, elections could now only be held between June and October next year.
He also dismissed Mugabe’s argument that Parliament cannot constitutionally remain in office beyond March next year saying the legislative body’s current term only expires in June 2013, meaning elections would have to be held within four months after its dissolution.
However, Zanu PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo accused the MDC formations of misinterpreting the Sadc resolutions saying the bloc merely said reforms should be implemented within 12 months.
“We still have seven months before the end of the year. I am confident within the next few months, we will have implemented the reforms in time for elections in 2012,” he said.
Gumbo also dismissed reports that Zanu PF was in crisis mode following the Angola meeting with senior officials concerned the poll delay could hurt the party’s chances, especially as its candidate would be 89 next year.
Mugabe has been dogged by reports of ill-health but insists he is in robust physical condition.
Gumbo said the Zanu PF leader would still be “as fit as a fiddle” next year adding: “We only want to hold elections this year because we don’t want this to interfere with the UN World Tourism Organisation congress, which will be held in 2013.”