SA observer mission embroiled in controversy

By Angela Quintal

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission, which plans to be in Zimbabwe two weeks before the March 31 poll, was embroiled in controversy on Sunday ahead of the announcement of its official composition.

The 70-member mission, headed by Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, would leave on March 15, officials told The Mercury.

Mapisa-Nqakula, who headed the parliamentary observer mission in the 2003 Zimbabwean elections, will announce her regional team on Monday.

SADC member states have nominated their own representatives.

Ten of the members will be from South Africa, with at least two from the National Assembly's home affairs committee.

They include the committee's chairperson and African National Congress MP Patrick Chauke, and the Democratic Alliance's deputy spokesperson on home affairs, Marius Swart. However, neither Swart nor his chief whip, Douglas Gibson, was aware of this on Sunday.

It is understood Mapisa-Nqakula plans to officially inform the South African team members on Monday morning. They will include a representative of Nedlac and a member of the legal fraternity, among others.

Gibson said: "I know absolutely nothing about it. Nobody nominates anybody to go anywhere but me."

He had nominated DA MP Dianne Kohler-Bernard as the party's representative on the mission, but had received a letter on Friday from ambassador Jessie Duarte rejecting her.

Told by The Mercury that Swart was on the list instead, Gibson said: "It sounds typical of the disorganisation of the ANC-led government. The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing."


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