AS any sane Zimbabwean I am anxious to see the speedy resolution of the problems bedevilling our beautiful country and as a result I was naturally drawn to question current efforts being made towards this end by Thabo Mbeki.
In an effort to understand what the term mediator means I made the effort to research the definitions of the term.
One definition describes a mediator as an impartial observer who listens to both sides separately and suggests how each side could adjust its position to resolve differences.
From another definition a mediator was described as a person with whom parties to a dispute meet, in an effort to have the mediator assist them in reaching a mutually acceptable decision.
Unlike an arbitrator, the mediator does not impose a decision on the disputants; rather, he attempts to help them find a solution acceptable to them.
From these descriptions, one understands the scope and boundaries of a mediator’s operations and is in a better position to make an objective judgment.
Upon looking at the descriptions I realised that Mbeki does not possess, at least from the mandate given to him, the power to wave a magic wand and make all our problems go away.
He does though have a responsibility to be impartial and to listen and respond to both sides’ point of view. On that I find that he is found wanting.
His recent visits to Harare have done nothing to show his impartiality as he made bold declarations that seemed to favour the point of view of one party at the expense of another.
Although he claims that he was misquoted in the “no crisis” statement, it is incumbent upon him to project the image of an impartial mediator. For his role as a mediator to be effective image is of the essence and hence for that to be compromised is a serious point of concern.
An example being the image Kofi Annan had as an impartial mediator in the Kenyan crisis and how expeditiously he worked to resolve it. Mbeki’s recent visit to Zanu PF, only one party to the conflict, is yet another issue of great concern along with his seemingly aloof nature in catering for the concerns for the opposition.