Africa

Mbeki accuses Tsvangirai of stonewalling talks

Staff Reporter

Thabo Mbeki slams Zimbabwe opposition's refusal to accept regional leaders' recommendations

In a scathing letter printed in the Star on Friday former South African president Thabo Mbeki accuses Zimbabwe’s opposition of stonewalling power-sharing talks.

The 4 000-word letter was written before the latest round of talks on a unity accord fell apart this week, with Tsvangirai demanding that Mbeki step down as the mediator in Zimbabwe’s political crisis.

Mbeki slammed Tsvangirai’s refusal to accept recommendations of regional leaders on forming a unity government with President Robert Mugabe, accusing him of seeking support from the West rather than from
African neighbours.

Mbeki said Tsvangirai should “take responsibility for the future of Zimbabwe, rather than see its mission as being a militant critic of President Mugabe and Zanu-PF”.

Mbeki took issue with Tsvangirai’s remarks that Southern
African leaders “did not have the courage” to stand up to Mugabe at a summit in Johannesburg on November 9.

The summit had recommended that the two parties share control of the contested home affairs ministry, but Tsvangirai rejected the proposal.

“Because we do not agree with you on a small matter, you choose to describe us in a manner that is most offensive in terms of African culture, and therefore offend our sense of dignity as Africans,” Mbeki wrote.

“Such manner of proceeding might earn you prominent media headlines. However, I assure you that it will do nothing to solve the problems of Zimbabwe,” Mbeki said.

“It may be that, for whatever reason, you consider our region and continent as being of little consequence to the future of Zimbabwe, believing that others further away, in Western Europe and North America, are of greater importance,” he added.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the first round presidential election in March, but pulled out of a run-off in June, accusing the ruling party of coordinating deadly attacks against his supporters.

In September Mbeki brokered the power-sharing deal, which calls for Mugabe to remain as president and Tsvangirai to take the role of prime minister.

The deal was meant to end the turmoil, but Mugabe has moved to unilaterally appoint Cabinet ministers to the unity government.

Tsvangirai has refused to join the government until the parties reach an agreement on the Cabinet and on his powers as the new prime minister.

On Wednesday Tsvangirai pulled out of the latest round of power-sharing talks, saying no progress had been made and that Mbeki should recuse himself as mediator.—Sapa-AFP

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