[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Mbeki voetsek, say MDC at long last
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed May 7 08:47:33 BST 2008
(*Another* zig zag.)
7 May 2008
Mbeki team in top-level Zimbabwe poll talks
A TOP-level delegation led by Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi
met President Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) this week to discuss
the runoff vote for president. It is the strongest indication yet that
President Thabo Mbeki is continuing as a mediator in Zimbabwe, despite
the MDC demanding his withdrawal.
Presidential spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga would not comment last night
on whether or not a South African government delegation visited Harare
“The mediation process under the SADC (Southern African Development
Community) and President Mbeki continues,” he said. All parties
understood that mediation “cannot be done in the public spotlight”.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai — who received more votes than Mugabe at
the presidential polls on March 29 but not enough to avoid a runoff —
last month asked the SADC to withdraw Mbeki as mediator and replace him
with a special envoy.
Sources in Harare said the Mbeki emissaries met Mugabe and ZEC officials
to find out about the date of, and preparations for, the runoff election.
The ZEC failed to announce results for the presidential poll for over a
month. Mugabe had insisted on a recount of votes, which did not reverse
The government and the ZEC do not have the money and logistical capacity
for another poll. The schools used as polling stations and teachers who
acted as polling agents are not available as they are now working.
It is understood that while their meeting with Mugabe went well, the SA
delegation had problems with MDC leaders because the party has already
said it no longer trusted Mbeki as an honest broker.
The SADC has not acceded to the MDC’s request to remove Mbeki, while
African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma has said the
mediation team should be broadened.
The bitter fallout between Mbeki and the MDC started last year when
Mbeki said dialogue between it and the ruling Zanu (PF) had succeeded,
while the opposition thought it had failed.
Mbeki’s view was that the parties had reached a “substantive agreement”
on all main issues and this was a step forward, although implementation
was not done.
The MDC said the talks were a failure because they did not achieve their
main objectives of a new constitution and postponement of the elections
from March to June.
On January 15, Mbeki met Mugabe and Tsvangirai in Harare but failed to
break the deadlock. Between January 17 and 29, Mbeki tried in vain to
persuade Mugabe to meet Tsvangirai to resolve the issues.
In February Mbeki emissaries again met separately with the two parties’
negotiating teams, but that did not help as Mugabe had already
proclaimed the election date on January 25, effectively sabotaging the
Mbeki’s team raised concerns this week about political violence and
indicated that reports of state-sponsored brutality and murders would be
investigated. Mugabe is understood to have denied such allegations and
to have claimed that the MDC was perpetrating the violence. He also
complained that the MDC and western powers were behind a “regime-change
plot” in Harare.
Mugabe believes he and his party lost the elections because the
electoral process was flawed and that the ZEC officials were bribed by
the MDC and western countries. He also believes he lost because
nongovernmental organisations and chiefs were part of an MDC campaign to
get rid of him. Mugabe has accused the MDC of getting election funding
from the UK, the US and Australia.
Mbeki told African religious leaders last week he would send a team to
Zimbabwe to investigate cases of political violence and killings. He is
said to be doing this to ensure Tsvangirai agreed to contest the runoff.
Church leaders in Zimbabwe have said the runoff would worsen violence
and that a negotiated settlement was needed.
Mbeki’s envoys also discussed the possibility of a government of
national unity or a transitional arrangement. Mugabe and his party are
not rigidly opposed to this, and the MDC is also amenable to it.
Although Tsvangirai, now based in SA and Botswana, has not yet announced
his decision on the runoff, MDC insiders say he would participate
provided the violence and killings stop, that the environment is
conducive for free and fair elections and that results are announced
within 48 hours. The MDC also wants assurances that Mugabe would accept
defeat if he loses.
Yesterday the ANC called on Tsvangirai to participate in the runoff.
“While we cannot tell the MDC what to do, if it does not participate it
will basically hand the election outcome to Mugabe on a platter,” said
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. With Karima Brown
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