Southern African News Features                                           SANF 09 No 41, November 2009
SADC: Region is addressing its challenges
by Kizito Sikuka

The SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security has expressed satisfaction at the way the region is addressing the political situation in Lesotho, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.

In a communiqué released following the recent SADC Troika summit, southern African leaders said the region is committed towards finding a lasting solution to the political and security challenges in Lesotho and Madagascar, as well as implementation of the Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe.

"Summit noted with appreciation the progress made by the Joint Mediation Team on Madagascar led by SADC Facilitator Joaquim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique in promoting dialogue among the four political leaders in order to restore the constitutional normalcy in Madagascar," the Troika said in a statement.

The Troika urged the four leaders in Madagascar to fully commit themselves to the dialogue and ensure peace returns to the island nation.

The political turmoil in Madagascar emerged again earlier this year after opposition leader Andry Rajoelina seized power from President Marc Ravalomanana in a public demonstration back by the military, similar to the method used by Ravalomanana when he seized power a few years earlier from his predecessor, Didier Ratsiraka.

Chissano is mediating in the peace talks sponsored by SADC following the collapse of African Union and United Nations talks early this year.

Ravalomanana and Rajoelina together with other two former Madagascan presidents have so far agreed to set up a transitional government, which will hold fresh elections next year.

On the situation in Lesotho, the Troika said much ground has been covered in promoting dialogue among all stakeholders.

"Summit noted with appreciation the role of the Christian Council of Lesotho in facilitating dialogue among the Basotho political stakeholders."

The Troika said the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) should work out modalities to collaborate with the Christian Council of Lesotho in an effort to find a solution to the post-electoral situation in Lesotho.

With regard to the situation in Zimbabwe, the Troika said the inclusive government has achieved a lot since its formation in February, adding that no amount of disruption should reverse the gains.

"Summit further noted the Inclusive Government’s achievements made in the political, social and economic fronts during the nine months since its inception," the Troika said.

In view of this, the Summit urged the parties to fully comply with the spirit and letter of the GPA and the SADC Summit decisions of 27 January 2009.

At the January summit, SADC leaders said parties to the GPA should engage in a dialogue to fully implement the agreement.

The SADC Troika made the same call at its meeting saying dialogue is the only way Zimbabwe can address its challenges.

"The political parties signatory to the GPA should engage in dialogue with immediate effect within fifteen days not beyond thirty days."

The Troika added that South Africa as the facilitator will remain seized with the developments on the implementation of the GPA.

SADC urged the international community to lift all forms of sanctions on Zimbabwe to ensure the smooth implementation of the GPA.

Zanu-PF identifies sanctions and illegal pirate radio stations operating in the country as the main hindrance to the GPA.

The main MDC formation, which in October had "disengaged" from the inclusive government, says the appointment of provincial governors, central bank governor and attorney-general are its main outstanding issues.

The SADC Troika meeting was attended by Mozambican President Guebuza as chair of the Organ, Zambian Defence Minister Kalombo Mwansa, who represented President Rupiah Banda as deputy chair and Swaziland’s King Mswati III as immediate chair.

President Jacob Zuma attended the meeting due to South Africa's role as the SADC facilitator of the agreement in Zimbabwe. The SADC Chairperson, President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was represented by his Ambassador to South Africa, Bene M´Poko.

SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomão attended the meeting held on 5 November in Maputo, Mozambique.

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