ZIMBABWE will solve its problems quickly once formal negotiations get under way, South African President Thabo Mbeki said yesterday.
He said the ruling Zanu
PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change would go into formal talks with an agenda currently being set in informal negotiations.Mbeki told reporters in Pietermaritzburg such negotiations were expected to get under way soon as both sides were committed to them.
The president was on the campaign trail for the African National Congress, wooing KwaZulu-Natal voters with a view to the upcoming general election.
He said one issue in the current Zimbabwean talks was the timing of parliamentary and presidential elections.At present, these two polls were not being held concurrently. Both camps wanted the two elections to take place at the same time, he was reported as saying.
Mbeki was critical of South Africans insisting on an immediate resolution of Zimbabwe’s political and economic problems.He said Palestine and Northern Ireland had been riddled with conflict for decades.
“Palestine has had problems since the 1940s but nobody complains,” he said. “And what about Northern Ireland? Nobody complains that Tony Blair’s diplomacy is not working. They speak about my quiet diplomacy (towards Zimbabwe), but no diplomacy is loud.”
“Zimbabwe was not a province of South Africa,” Mbeki said. “Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe does not take instructions from me. I discuss matters with them as a neighbour.” – Sapa.