19 August, 2013
“We were not expecting SADC to immediately tell Mugabe to call fresh elections, but we are going to continue lobbying, while at home we apply various forms of political pressure to achieve democracy,”
Lilongwe, Malawi– Leaders of the southern African bloc, Southern African Development Community (SADC) have endorsed the re-election of Zimbabwean president Robert Gabriel Mugabe at their summit, effectively paving the way for his inauguration this week.
A spokesperson of the South African Foreign Ministry said “The summit congratulated [his] honorable Robert Mugabe for winning the election in Zimbabwe”.
The 15-member group also named Mugabe as its deputy chairman and announced that the next summit of the bloc will be held in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare next year.
Last week, Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) withdrew a petition against the results of the July 31 polls claiming they did not trust the judiciary to deliver justice on their behalf. The party however still holds that the elections were ‘seriously compromised’ and have promised to continue to fight for democracy in Zimbabwe.
“We were not expecting SADC to immediately tell Mugabe to call fresh elections, but we are going to continue lobbying, while at home we apply various forms of political pressure to achieve democracy,” MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora, told Reuters.
Under the constitution, Mugabe has to be sworn in within 48 hours of the constitutional court decision following the withdrawal of the petition.
Reports say outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been careful not to speak about street protests, fearing a crackdown on his MDC leadership by Mugabe’s security forces.
Former colonial power Britain has meanwhile expressed disappointment at the MDC’s withdrawal of the petition and urged the SADC to carefully examine accusations of fraud in last month’s poll.
The latest endorsement coupled with the petition withdrawal now paves way for 89-year old Mugabe to fully assume office as Zimbabwe’s democratically elected president.