/ 15 April 2008

No dead end yet in Zim, say SA facilitators

While anxiety due to the delay in the announcement of Zimbabwe’s presidential election results is shared, the process has not reached a dead end, the South African facilitation team said on Tuesday.

”The anxiety about the delay is certainly legitimate; it is a shared anxiety,” said Minister of Provincial and Local Government Sydney Mufamadi, who is on President Thabo Mbeki’s Zimbabwe facilitation team.

He was speaking at the Union Buildings in the first-ever official briefing by the facilitation team, saying the decision of the Zimbabwean parties to await the outcome of the election was the correct one.

”You may say, ‘We are not sure whether the outcome or what would be announced would still be a true and correct reflection,’ but you are still not able to judge before that is announced.” Mufamadi said

His statement came as criticism of Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy and his utterances that there was no crisis in Zimbabwe was growing.

On Tuesday, African National Congress treasurer general Mathews Phosa said the crisis in Zimbabwe was there for everyone to see.

Mbeki’s mediation on Zimbabwe had become a joke, Wellington Chibebe of the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions said on Monday.

Several other civil society groups have also questioned Mbeki’s stance.

”Those of us that have a responsibility to make sure a resolution is found also have a responsibility to inform, to say we have not reached a dead end because we know what processes can still be activated to remove the blockage,” Mufamadi said.

He said the facilitation team would continue to do its work without speaking out in public.

”The public has the right to know, but the public of Zimbabwe also has a right to be assisted through a process which is likely to yield results rather than one that is only likely to provide us with exciting sound bites,” he said.

Mufamadi said the emergency summit of Southern African Development Community leaders in Zambia and its call for the quick release of the results had strengthened the facilitation team. ”The SADC is not asleep, it understands that it decision is not self-implementing; it’s not self-enforced — it has to be enforced.”

But, he said Mbeki and the team would not ”micromanage” the situation. ”The [electoral] authority is an independent authority established in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe; we can’t be asking at every turn questions that are best left either to the electoral authority or the participating parties,” he said.

He added: ”We don’t have an unlimited ability to go there to do anything and everything; we go there to help in terms that were agreed by the parties.”

Asked when South Africa would accept that the delay in the release of results was indeed a crisis, Mufamadi said he was not counting days.

”I don’t think we are in the business of counting days; we are in the business of assessing the situation politically and saying the situation should not be allowed to get out of hand.” — Sapa