ZIMBABWE is not contemptuous of SADC and its facilitation team but President Robert Mugabe is too busy with pressing domestic commitments to attend meetings of the regional grouping, his spokesman said Sunday.
SADC had scheduled an extra-ordinary summit to discuss Zimbabwe in Maputo, Mozambique on Sunday but the meeting was called off after it emerged Mugabe, who was away in Japan for an Africa development summit, would not be able to attend.
SADC officials said the meeting, which would also have discussed the timing and funding of the country’s elections, would be rescheduled but no date has been agreed.
Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, said Zimbabwe was not contemptuous of SADC and its Zuma-led facilitation team.
“Quite to the contrary, Zimbabwe is conscious that there should not be any contradiction between the SADC-led facilitation process on one hand and the national laws and legal processes on the other.
“A key requirement of holding elections in SADC or in any country for that matter is that elections must be governed by the national constitution and national laws. It is important for the President to manage all these processes to avoid needless conflict.
“Whilst facilitation under SADC proceeds by negotiation, it is not possible to negotiate with a constitution. A constitution is a set reality, it is complexly inflexible and a straitjacket to which we all must trim our behaviours in order to fit.”
The SADC meeting comes after the Constitutional Court ordered Mugabe to hold elections before July 31, a decision that has riled MDC-T leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who wants the vote delayed to allow more reforms.
Speaking in Bulawayo Tsvangirai described the court’s ruling as “political activism” but said he was confident SADC would help ensure elections are only held when conditions are in place for a credible ballot.
“We are not going to legitimize what is illegitimate. To SADC we are going to say Robert Mugabe has refused to honour any agreement,” Tsvangirai was quoted as saying in a party statement.
“SADC as a stakeholder will be there until a proper election is held. Why did you invite SA. Why did you invite SADC? It is because you wanted them to rescue our situation and so we cannot blame them for that.”
Meanwhile, Charamba said Mugabe would not be able to attend any SADC meetings this week due to pressing government and party business.
“There are pressing constitutional duties which the President has to fulfil during this very crucial week … he has to do three critical things,” said Charamba.
“He has to chair a Cabinet meeting during which amendments to the Electoral Act will be tabled and hopefully adopted by Cabinet. The amendments have already been digested by the Cabinet committee on legislation which draws its membership from the three political parties.
“Thereafter, the Minister of Justice will have to decide on the most efficacious route to take in view of the time constraints in order to make these proposals take legal effect. Attached to that are those legal rituals which the Minister of Justice has to fulfil to ensure adoption of the proposals.
“I am also aware that the party will seek to finalise the rules and guidelines governing (Zanu PF) primary elections. This has become even more urgent in view of the Constitutional Court judgment.
“Thirdly, it should not be forgotten that what got one of our citizens to approach the Constitutional Court was the issue of proclamation of the election date. That’s a key stage which the President has to fulfil somehow bearing in mind the time-line provided for under the Constitution.