- Despite victoriously emerging from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit last week, President Robert Mugabe was subject to closed-door pressures by his colleagues. He was asked to comply with the common electoral rules adopted across the SADC region in 2004.
SADC leaders took note of President Thabo Mbeki's report on the Zimbabwean crisis, Mugabe’s attacks on opposition ahead of next year’s general elections and the deepening economic hardships in Zimbabwe.
A rescue package for Zimbabwe, which will be assessed by a team of regional finance ministers, was presented by the SADC Executive Secretary, Tomaz Salamao.
Before his government access US $500 million aid package, Mugabe must first commit himself to reforms, including conducting free and fair elections as well as drafting a new constitution that gets the approval of the opposition.
His government was asked to legislate electoral provisions that meet international standards of fairness and transparency and repeal all laws used to muzzle or gag the media or close newspapers and others used to silence or intimidate political opponents.
Zimbabwean government has also been asked to respect Mbeki’s mediation process if it wants to enjoy the aid.
According to ‘The Zimbabwean’, SADC leaders insisted that Zimbabwe would not be given aid in the absence of a clear signal that Mugabe had agreed to a set of “circumstances” or a “context” that would justify assistance.
Mbeki believed that the Zimbabwean government recognised the urgency of a political and economic recovery plan. But Mbeki was not confident that the Southern African country was ready to create the circumstances that would make the recovery possible.
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa who has assumed leadership of SADC, called for free and fair polls in Zimbabwe next year.
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