- A new regional report calls for the deployment of observers and military personnel from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Zimbabwe to secure the future of the power-sharing agreement, to fight political violence until a new constitution is in place and to assure civil war does not break out.
The influential Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) in its new report "Zimbabwe: A way forward", calls on SADC to intervene more vehemently in Zimbabwe. SADC is the guarantor of the so-called "Global Political Agreement", under which President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party share powers in the country.
In recent weeks, the MDC has announced a policy of non-cooperation in respect of working with ZANU-PF in government – retaining its cabinet posts but withdrawing from cabinet meetings and active cooperation with ZANU-PF ministries. This was done in respone to arrests of MDC members.
The SADC Security Organ is preparing for an emergency summit on Zimbabwe as the power-sharing deal is falling apart. Observers have noted a rapid "militarisation" in Zimbabwe and fear the current split could develop into a civil war if not checked.
OSISA now calls for the deployment of "a comprehensive, standing presence of SADC to be stationed in Zimbabwe until such time as a new constitution has been drafted, that the draft has been submitted to referendum and that free and fair presidential and legislative elections have been held," the report concludes.
"The parties have shown themselves unable to effectively address differences relating to the Global Political Agreement," says Sisonke Msimang, executive director of OSISA. "That has been made clear by the most recent deadlock. SADC, as guarantor of the agreement, must now put in place mechanisms for effective oversight," he adds.
Amid credible reports of increasingly military build-up in Zimbabwe, particularly in the Mashonaland provinces – where political violence has traditionally generated – OSISA also called for the "immediate deployment" of a smaller delegation to monitor and report on incidents of political violence in Zimbabwe.
While OSISA holds that SADC mostly should send observers and mediators, the group also favours foreign military presence in Zimbabwe. Ideally, this would be organised by SADC, but an African Union (AU) contingent would seem more realistic. "AU expert military personnel would be deployed to the army and the police to lead a process of security sector reform," OSISA advises.
OSISA warns that, if SADC does not take action, "there is a serious risk that Zimbabwe will slide back to the crisis levels of 2008, devolve into further widespread violence and that real gains – in health and education – will be lost."
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