President Mwanawasa has appealed to the ruling and opposition party leaders in Zimbabwe to embrace the virtue of humility in charting the future of their beloved country that they rightly reclaimed from the colonial masters after a long and bloody liberation war.
Officially opening the Summit at Lusaka’s Mulungushi International Conference Centre today, President says the extraordinary Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Summit is not intended to put Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on trial over the current political situation in that country.
Dr Mwanawasa who is also SADC Chairperson said SADC can not continue to standby and do nothing when one of its members was experiencing political and economic difficult.
Dr Mwanawasa said SADC can not continue to standby and do nothing when one of its members was experiencing political and economic difficult.
‘’It would be unwise for a neighbour or neighbours to turn a blind eye when another neighbour’s house is on fire’’.
The SADC Chairperson who is also Zambia’s President said the region was at pains to see the fruits of the Zimbabwean independence struggle endangered as a result of political differences among political parties.
President Mwanawasa said that the Zimbabweans should put national interest above all the other interests and to take judicious decisions that would make Zimbabwe, the region and Africa proud.
He further said the Zimbabwean leaders should make these decisions fully aware that at critical times, great men and women have take bold steps for the benefit of posterity.
‘’That critical time has come for them and that time must be seized now’’, he said.
President Mwanawasa said SADC concern hinges on the failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce the results of the presidential elections which has given rise to a climate of tension in that country.
The situation has further been aggravated by the inability of the High Court of Zimbabwe to determine the matter speedily following opposition MDC’s appeal to compel ZEC to announce the results.
Dr Mwanawasa said this situation has left Zimbabweans, the SADC region and the international community in the dark as to who won the recent Zimbabwe elections.
The extraordinary Summit in Lusaka convened to address the post election impasse in Zimbabwe is being attended
eight Heads of State namely South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, Edwardo Dos Santos of Angola, Mozambique’s Armando Guebuza, Malawi’s Mbingu Wa Mutharika and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Others are Namibia’s Hifikepunye Pohamba, Ian Khama of Botswana and host President who is also SADC Chairman Levy Mwanawasa.
President Mugabe is represented by a delegation of three ministers who include Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengege, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Rural and Social Amenities Minister Emmerson Munangagwa.
Opposition leader Morgan Tshivangirai who arrived in the morning is also in attendance.
And Dr Mwanawasa who hailed the Heads of State for responding to his call at short notice noted that their presence was a clear testimony of their unwavering commitment to the achievement of the objectives of the regional body.
He urged the Heads of State to discuss the prevailing situation in Zimbabwe in an open, objective and honest manner.
‘’This Summit, therefore should focus on helping Zimbabwe to find an answer that genuinely reflects the will of the people. I have no doubt in my mind that the presence of the Zimbabwean leadership at this SADC extraordinary meeting attests to their disposition to heed our advice and their willingness to steer the country out of the current situation’’, President Mwanawasa said.
‘’The challenge before us is that we should identify ways and means of assisting our Zimbabwean brothers and sisters in finding a solution which will be acceptable to the people of Zimbabwe and all parties involved in the recent elections’’.
President Mwanawasa explained that SADC‘s intervention is anchored on the pursuit of two objectives of the regional body namely to promote common political values, systems and other shared values which are transmitted through institutions that are democratic, legitimate and effective.
In addition, he said the intervention is premised on the need to consolidate, defend and maintain democracy, peace, security and stability.
He expressed confidence that the Summit will successfully achieve its objective given the good will portrayed by the people of Zimbabwe and the region.
The SADC Heads of State have since gone into a closed door session which will culminate in the release of a communiqué on its stance over Zimbabwe.
And American Ambassador to Zambia Carmen Martinez said the political situation in Zimbabwe should be addressed amicably without violence and intimidation on the people.
Ms Carmen who commended Zambia for holding the extraordinary Summit said Africa should have solutions to its problems hence the SADC region was key in finding solutions to the situation in Zimbabwe.