Mugabe Threatens to Quit SADC Over Election Date Dispute

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe threatened to withdraw from a regional body as he pressed ahead with plans to hold elections this month despite a request by the Southern African Development Community that they be delayed to allow reforms.

Report by Bloomberg

“We are in SADC voluntarily,” he told a political rally to announce his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party’s election manifesto at a stadium on the outskirts of the capital, Harare, today. “If SADC decides to do stupid things we can withdraw.”

The 15-nation group, which in 2009 brokered an end to a decade-long political dispute in Zimbabwe, this month asked Mugabe to seek a delay to July 31 elections to allow reforms, that form part of a new constitution, to be enacted. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, whose Movement for Democratic change was compelled by SADC to join a coalition with Mugabe as part of the 2009 pact, has sought a postponement.

Yesterday Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court upheld a ruling that elections should take place on July 31.

“It is a political decision and not a legal decision,” MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said in a phone interview yesterday. He didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone today.

Tsvangirai has said he wants a code of conduct for police and military forces ahead of elections. The MDC has also demanded equal access to state media and closer inspection of the country’s voters’ roll before the vote.
‘Basic Reforms’

South Africa, a member of SADC, wants Zimbabwe to postpone the elections by at least a month to implement “basic reforms,” Lindiwe Zulu, an adviser to South African President Jacob Zuma and a member of SADC’s facilitation team for the elections, said in an interview on June 28.

“An ordinary woman says ‘no you can’t have elections on July 31?’” Mugabe said today. “Really did such a person think we as a country would take heed of this street woman’s stupid utterances?”

Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for Zuma, didn’t immediately respond to text messages and voice mails left on his mobile phone.

“We are not talking of defeat, we are talking of victory. We need political life,” Mugabe told supporters.

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