DESPITE opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s protests at South African President Thabo Mbeki’s mediation in the Zimbabwe crisis, Pretoria last week convened an emergency inter-party meeting between Zanu PF and the MDC to tackle contentious presidential run-off issues.
This came as the United Nations Security Council yesterday was due to discuss Zimbabwe and issue a statement on the harassment of US and UK diplomats. The diplomats were stopped and threatened at a police roadblock yesterday afternoon on their way back from Bindura. Their vehicle tyres were shredded and a driver assaulted.
Opposition leaders and supporters, civil society leaders, journalists and diplomats have been the main targets of the latest crackdown.
Informed sources said Zanu PF representatives Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche and MDC negotiators Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti – who is temporarily resident in South Africa after threats to arrest him for allegedly announcing unofficial presidential election results in March – held talks in Pretoria which were chaired by South African Local Government minister Sydney Mufamadi.
They discussed the political violence and the multi-party agreement on the code of conduct during the runoff.
The sources said the MDC complained about violence which the party says has so far claimed at least 60 lives, mainly those of opposition supporters.
Zanu PF is said to have defended itself, claiming the MDC was also acting violently, while the South Africans promised to intervene to stop the violence.
Mbeki recently sent a team of retired army generals to investigate the violence and they unearthed shocking evidence of brutality. But their findings were overshadowed by violent xenophobic attacks against foreigners in South Africa which claimed about 60 lives.
Sources said Mbeki wants to create a peaceful environment for a free and fair run-off as he did before the March elections. Mbeki’s efforts ensured the March elections were relatively peaceful, although the talks failed because of Zanu PF’s refusal to adopt a new constitution before the March elections and postpone the poll to accommodate implementation of agreed issues.
Sources said Mufamadi promised that South Africa would intervene diplomatically to stop violence and ensure peaceful campaigning. It is said that was why Mbeki intervened when Tsvangirai was arrested on Wednesday by the police.
Last week alone Mbeki sent two different envoys to Harare to deal with run-off issues and a possible resolution of the crisis after the poll. Mufamadi, Mbeki’s point man on the Zimbabwe mediation, came in on Monday to meet Mugabe while Mbeki’s Foreign Affairs Director-General Ayanda Ntsaluba was in the country on Thursday for further discussions.
By Dumisani Muleya