/ 10 April 2008

SA govt asks: Where are Zim vote results?

South Africa will work with other countries in the region to ensure the will of the Zimbabwean people is reflected, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said on Thursday.

The country has joined the chorus of international calls for Zimbabwe to release the results of its March 29 presidential election as soon as possible.

”We have called for the results to be announced as soon as possible,” Pahad told reporters at a briefing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

He said the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission should explain the delay in releasing the results of the presidential election.

”This would [restore] calm [to] the situation and ease the growing tensions. We continue to call on the people of Zimbabwe to await the election results and not to resort to any unconstitutional means, on all sides — this is a message to all sides,” Pahad added.

He said it would be decided on Thursday whether President Thabo Mbeki would attend the Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting called by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa to discuss the Zimbabwe issue.

”He [Mbeki] is the facilitator for SADC, this is an extraordinary summit … it is our view the president should attend the summit if his programmes allow.

”We, with SADC, will continue to see what we can do to ensure that the will of the people is reflected and that the way the Zimbabweans solve the problem will be without any resort to violence,” Pahad said.

In the meantime, Mbeki’s office said he is willing to meet Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai at his earliest convenience.

Mbeki’s spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said: ”As soon as we have a formal request, we will meet him at his earliest convenience, as the president would any other Zimbabwean leader.”

Pahad said the government only on Thursday became aware of Tsvangirai’s request to meet Mbeki. ”It would be important to hear what Mr Tsvangirai has to say,” he said.

Tsvangirai — leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, which secured a majority in Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections — met African National Congress president Jacob Zuma in South Africa on Monday. He also met Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi.

Zuma on Tuesday also criticised the delay in declaring the results of Zimbabwe’s presidential election. He indicated that ”keeping the nation in suspense … keeping the international community in suspense” was wrong.

”I don’t think it augurs very well,” he said in an interview with South African Broadcasting Corporation news. — Sapa