14/04/2008 21:06 - (SA)
Pretoria - President Thabo Mbeki's mediation on Zimbabwe has become a joke, Zimbabwean civil society bodies said on Monday.
Several civil society groups under the banner of the Institute for a Democratic Alternative in Zimbabwe slammed Mbeki and the Southern African Development Community's (SADC) reaction to the delay of the announcement of the March 29 presidential election in Zimbabwe.
"For the SADC to have mandated President Mbeki to continue with the (facilitation) exercise, that is the joke of the year," said Wellington Chibebe of the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions.
This comes after an emergency summit in Zambia over the weekend where SADC regional leaders asked Mbeki to continue his mediation efforts and for Zimbabwe's presidential election results to be released speedily.
At a media briefing on Monday at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria near Mbeki's office at the Union Buildings, Zimbabwe civil society groups said Mbeki's utterances that there was no crisis following the election was disappointing.
Said Irene Petras of Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights: "There is a measure of dishonesty as a facilitator saying 'there is no crisis in the country', there is a constitutional crisis; there is no parliament that can pass any laws, we have a caretaker president who cannot act with any legitimate powers, we have an election process which is in disarray...
"There is no separation of power and the rule of law is under attack especially through the use of political violence.
"I think any reasonable person would see there is a crisis which should be addressed in an honest manner, and it needs to be addressed urgently."
Petras said her organisation had already confirmed 130 political attacks, including on two persons who were killed, and a further 29 who were taken to hospital for severe beatings.
The groups said this was evidence of a "silent coup" taking place.
"The people of Zimbabwe have spoken, they have voted, what else are they supposed to do?
"(President Robert) Mugabe is saying no to the electoral process, he's saying no to the constitution of the country," said Gordon Moyo of Bulawayo Monitoring.
He said Zimbabweans' hopes lay with regional leaders but that the outcome of the weekend meeting was disappointing.
Abel Chikomo of the Media Monitoring Project: Zimbabwe said the SADC should have insisted on timelines for the release of the presidential election results.source