Let the MDC meet, says ANC

If Zimbabwe’s elections are to be declared free and fair, the opposition Movement for Democratic (MDC) should be allowed to hold public meetings, African National Congress secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe said on Monday.

Addressing the media after the ANC’s national executive committee lekgotla (meeting) at the weekend, Motlanthe expressed concern that the MDC still requires permission to hold public meetings.

“We have been concerned about several things. The MDC is a party that participates in Parliament and it controls several municipalities. This position impairs their ability to interact with their constituencies.”

He said the ANC is continuously engaging with Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF on this issue.

“Over the years, we have been continually saying to them that you cannot have a properly registered party restricted in this way.”

He said “progress” made in relations between the MDC and Zanu-PF have been largely due to the South African government’s intervention.

“We are fortunate in that we interact on an ongoing basis with Zanu-PF and [the] MDC.
The progress achieved by the two parties has been in great measure to our intervention. When communication breaks down between the two, we are able to restore it.”

He said he is pleased by the commitment Zanu-PF and the MDC have made to electoral guidelines laid out by the Southern African Development Community.

“This is a very good sign that we are all committed to seeing the election go ahead without violence. We are nudging Zanu-PF that the outcome of the election must be beyond questioning by anyone.”

He said the impartiality of the Zimbabwean police is also important.

Asked about the Congress of South African Trade Union’s (Cosatu) impending second visit to Zimbabwe, he said the union federation is free to do as it pleases.

“Cosatu can send a fact-finding mission every other week, if they want. But you cannot just defy the laws of the country you are visiting.”

During the last visit, Cosatu delegates were deported to South Africa for involving themselves in Zimbabwean activities.

Motlanthe suggested that Cosatu’s behaviour has more to do with creating media hype rather than familiarising themselves with the situation in Zimbabwe.

“They go there with the intention of defying a country’s laws and they make it known. This has value for the newspapers, but it has very little to do with familiarising yourself with the situation.”

He said South Africa’s involvement in Zimbabwe’s problems is in self-interest.

“If Zimbabwe implodes or collapses, it will affect us.”—Sapa

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