Tsvangirai meets Elders

Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai met the Elders’ delegation in Johannesburg on Saturday, said the delegation’s spokesperson.

“He met them [delegation] earlier today [Saturday], unfortunately I’m not in a position to disclose what was discussed,” said Katy Cronin.

The Elders’ delegation has three members, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, former United States president Jimmy Carter and international advocate for women’s and children’s rights Graça Machel.

They announced on Saturday that they had to cancel their trip to Zimbabwe for humanitarian mission this weekend, after they were refused entry into the country.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe accused Annan of “misrepresentation” over his charges they had been denied entry.

Zimbabwe had only asked for a postponement of the visit, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said late on Saturday.

“The government of Zimbabwe has not barred Mr Annan and his team from coming to Zimbabwe. It is most unfortunate that the former secretary general has, for reasons best known to himself, mispresented the position of the government of Zimbabwe,” Mumbengegwi said.

“Mr Annan is a man of great experience. He knows the importance of prior consultations and preparation for high level visits such as the one he was proposing.
We expect someone of his his level to observe the correct procedure and practice.”

The group said it had been denied visas by the Zimbabwe government. Zimbabwe has already been in consulation with UN agencies, which have seen aid pledges of 350 000 tonnes of grain and emergency support for the country’s collapsing health and sanitation sectors.

Annan’s visit would have, therefore, been “meaningless”, Mumbengegwi said.

Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe would engage with “all those of goodwill” over aid, and that Annan should have sought engagement “instead of calling a press conference in South Africa to misrepresent the position of the government of Zimbabwe”. - AFP

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