The Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) has said its Heads of State and Government Summit scheduled for Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe will not discuss the just-ended Zimbabwe elections.
This stand comes against a background of calls to have the forthcoming summit tackle the Zimbabwe elections which saw Robert Mugabe re-elected.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe on Tuesday, director of Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation Tankie Mothae said based on the preliminary report released by a Sadc observer team, the body feels that the electoral process this year was not as problematic as it was in 2008 when even the regional grouping condemned the results.
Mothae, who was a member of the Sadc observer team in Zimbabwe, said: “All of us have agreed on the report. As Sadc we are very happy with the electoral process, the time the situation was different from the last elections.”
He said if at all the issue of Zimbabwe will be tackled, it will be by way of general reports on the review of the policies which would also touch on other countries and not specifically Zimbabwe and its elections.
Mothae said if any country feels that there is an issue to be brought forward that is up to such a member State to do so.
Mothae’s announcement comes just days after Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Salomao admitted that stability in Zimbabwe was an important component for the region to attain development.
The July 31 Zimbabwe elections saw Mugabe being re-elected with almost 61 percent of the votes cast despite that the opposition including Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change-T have rejected the outcome of the vote.
Zimbabwe’s official electoral commission has also acknowledged problems.
Botswana, which is said to have sent an 80-member observer team, called on Sadc to investigate the elections.
Botswana’s Information Minister Jeff Ramsay said while members of the observer team from his country found that the election was free of violence and intimidation, and that voting was peaceful, they raised a number of other issues about the process, particularly to do with the voters roll, and the ability of people to vote.
Ramsay said Botswana was proposing that an independent audit should be undertaken by Sadc itself, so that there is a way of assessing the situation for lessons moving forward.
Botswana’s call has been supported by a group of more than 30 civil society organisations who held an election crisis meeting in Gaborone where they resolved to lobby the Sadc to include Zimbabwe on the agenda of the Summit.
The 30 CSOs were drawn from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe and included Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Action Support Centre.
The Sadc summit is the highest policy body of the regional body and has a membership of 15 heads of State with only Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina not expected to attend as his country is on suspension following a coup in 2010.