Bill Watch 14-2013

BILL WATCH 14/2013

[15th May 2013]

SADC Endorsed Election Roadmap a Precondition of Elections – Part I

The constitution-making process is almost complete.  BUT SADC has again and again reiterated in all its recent summits that before elections are held in Zimbabwe not only the new Constitution has to be in place, but also there must be full implementation of the rest of the GPA.  The SADC Facilitation team are still wanting a progress report on the Elections Roadmap agreed some time ago by all three parties to the GPA and endorsed by SADC.  This roadmap was designed to encapsulate what still had to be done to fully implement the provisions agreed to in the GPA. 

This past weekend the Organ On Politics, Defence And Security Cooperation Troika Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) was held in Cape Town, South Africa on 10th May 2013.  The communiqué from this Summit had the following to say on Zimbabwe:

·        Summit also commended the people of Zimbabwe for holding a credible, free and fair constitutional referendum on 16 March 2013.

·        Summit urged the parties to finalise the outstanding issues in the implementation of the GPA and preparations for holding free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.  [Text of communiqué available from veritas@mango.zw]

Background to the Elections Road Map

The GPA, which was signed in September 2008, stipulated a great deal of work to be done during the existence of the inclusive government to prepare Zimbabwe for free and fair elections which SADC could endorse.  [SADC would not endorse the 2008 Presidential elections as free and fair, which led to negotiations for the GPA.]  The inclusive government was sworn in in mid-February 2009, and soon thereafter there was a start to the constitution-making process, although it took four years rather than the anticipated 18 months to complete.  But as very few  of the other intended reforms in the GPA were being implemented, the SADC Heads of State, at the Windhoek Summit of August 2010, demanded that the inclusive Government and the Zimbabwean political parties "find an uninterrupted path to free and fair elections and the removal of all impediments to the same".  The three parties to the GPA responded to this SADC pressure by assigning their negotiators to draw up a roadmap defining “milestones and signposts” that must be executed and implemented before the next election. 

This work proceeded very slowly and at an Extraordinary Summit of the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation in Livingstone at the end of March 2011, SADC took a very strong stance on the lack of progress and called for a report back to the next SADC Summit.  [Text of Summit communiqué available from veritas@mango.zw].  On 22nd April 2011 the negotiators agreed on a “Roadmap to Zimbabwe’s Elections”, although there were no timeframes and some were gaps left where the parties had failed to reach agreement.  This Roadmap was considered at the SADC Summit at Sandton, South Africa, in June 2011, and the Summit resolved that the parties should “as a matter of urgency” draw up timelines for the Roadmap.  Negotiators signed the “Zimbabwe Elections Roadmap with Timelines” on 6th July 2011 – they had they reached agreement on most of the timelines although a few of the actions were still “parked” for further negotiations.  [Full text of this Roadmap with timelines available from veritas@mango.zw]

Continuing Pressure from SADC

Since the June 2011 Sandton Summit every SADC Summit and Troika meeting, e.g. the Maputo Summit of August 2012, the Organ Troika Summit of 9th March 2013 in Pretoria, and again the recent one in Cape Town, has urged not only the completion of the constitution, but also the implementation of the GPA as drawn up in the Roadmap to Elections, as necessary conditions to be fulfilled before free and fair elections can be held in Zimbabwe.  Recently, SADC Executive Secretary Salomao expressed SADC’s dissatisfaction with JOMIC’s performance of its responsibilities for ensuring GPA implementation; and the SADC Facilitator’s spokesperson, Lindiwe Zulu, stressed the “many other issues in the GPA that are outstanding”, and said “we need more robust action as we head towards elections”.

The SADC Endorsed GPA Election Roadmap

The Roadmap is made up of a brief Introduction and a table divided into eight parts to cover the following eight issues:

A. Sanctions

B. Constitution

C. Media Reform

D. Electoral Reform

E. Rule of Law

F. Freedom of Association and Assembly

G. Legislative Agenda and Commitments

H. Actual Election. 

What of the GPA Election Roadmap has been Achieved

A.  Sanctions

This part of the Roadmap calls for:

(i)  reactivation of the Inclusive Government’s Re-Engagement Committee [Done]

(ii) lobbying for the removal of sanctions by the Re-Engagement Committee [Done]

(iii) implementation by SADC of its resolutions on sanctions  [These resolutions called for the lifting of “Western sanctions” on Zimbabwe and for SADC leaders to engage the international community on the sanctions issue.]  [Done]

Comment: Neither the Roadmap, nor the corresponding article of the GPA, targets the actual lifting of sanctions, obviously in recognition of the fact that neither the Inclusive Government nor SADC can compel foreign sovereign states to lift them.  [Although ZANU-PF has always described the sanctions as “illegal” because not imposed by the United Nations, those applying sanctions insist that they do so in the exercise of their sovereign rights to regulate foreign trade and entry into their territory – and the EU states that its decisions have been taken in terms of the Lomé Agreement, to which Zimbabwe is a party.]

B.  Constitution

The Road Map called for the remaining seven stages of the constitution-making process described in the GPA, which in July 2011 had not been done, to be expedited.  Six of these have been implemented, albeit way behind schedule:

(i)  Thematic Committees  [Done]

(ii)  Drafting  [Done]

(iii) Second All Stakeholders’ Conference  [Done]

(iv) Report back to Parliament  [Done]

(v)  Referendum  [Done]

(vi) Passing of the Bill for the new Constitution by Parliament [Done 15th May]

Only the seventh and final stage remains:

(vii) Presidential assent to the Bill.

Issues About Which Very Little Has Been Done

C.  Media Reform

This part of the Roadmap lists eight agreed activities: 

(i) appointment of new board for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation  [Not done]  

Comment: As the government is the only shareholder this should have been straightforward.

(ii) appointment of new board for the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe  [Not done]  

Comment: The existing appointments were irregular – for instance, the necessary Parliamentary preliminaries for appointing some BAZ members were not carried out.

(iii) licensing of new broadcasters  [Not effectively done] 

Comment: This has been only nominally implemented, by the licensing of two new broadcasters, which are widely regarded as not truly independent.  No community radio stations have been licensed. 

(iv) appointment of new trustees for the Mass Media Trust  [Not done] 

Comment: This Trust holds the controlling interest in the company owning the State-controlled newspaper group and is a government appointed body and trustees have been previously changed by the Government, so this could have been done. 

Comment on (i), (ii) and (iv)  These items were accepted by the negotiators, by Cabinet, and by the GPA principals.  Nevertheless the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity has refused to implement these three agreements.

(v) establishment, by October 2011, of the Media Council of Zimbabwe   [Done – but set up late and inactive] 

Comment: The Media Council was appointed by the Media Commission under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act in September 2012, nearly a year after the target date of 1st November 2011.  The Council should have drawn up a code of ethics for the media sector [not done] and be investigating alleged breaches of the code – which it obviously cannot do until the code is produced.

(vi) calling on foreign governments to stop hosting/funding external radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe [Not effectively done] 

Comment:  ZANU-PF and its Ministers did so.  Other parties in the inclusive Government consider that for this to be done these stations need to be given licences [not done] to broadcast from within the country and that until then they will be hosted elsewhere.

(vii) encouraging the return of Zimbabwean broadcasters running or working for external radio stations [Not done] 

Comment: The reforms that might have encouraged these broadcasters to return have been blocked by a ZANU-PF-controlled Ministry.

(viii) “hate speech” in the State media  [Not done] 

Comment: State media organs, both print and broadcasting, have conspicuously failed to honour this in respect of MDC-T and MDC Ministers. 

 

Continued in Next Bulletin

 

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