MDC dumps Mbeki as mediator

By Tichaona Sibanda
9 May 2008

The Morgan Tsvangirai MDC has dumped President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa as the principal mediator of the crisis in Zimbabwe, saying they no longer have confidence in his mediation efforts.

Tsvangirai’s spokesman George Sibotshiwe, told us from Johannesburg on Friday that they had communicated this to Mbeki this week in a letter handed to his point man Sydney Mufamadi, by Tendai Biti, the secretary-general of the MDC.

‘Mufamadi met with Biti who officially informed him that we are unhappy with their mediation process. We’ve since informed SADC and the African Union of our position,’ Sibotshiwe said.

Mbeki flew into Harare on Friday for talks with Robert Mugabe, amid the growing political impasse following the announcement of the presidential results last week. Mbeki held intensive talks with Mugabe over the country’s post-election crisis as doctors reported a dramatic rise in violence. The talks at State House lasted for more than three hours before Mbeki left for the South African embassy in Harare without making any comment to reporters.
Following a visit to Harare last month, Mbeki came under heavy criticism for saying Zimbabwe was not in crisis. Mbeki has followed a policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’ that has not helped the volatile situation after the March 29th elections.
Tsvangirai has called for Mbeki to step aside and for SADC to expand the mediation efforts. Sibotshiwe said no one from the MDC would be meeting Mbeki in Harare and he indicated their party had requested SADC and the AU to appoint a permanent envoy to deal with the crisis.
‘I think what the country needs now is an envoy whose job will be to go through this mediation thoroughly on a day to day basis. As you are aware, President Mbeki does this mediation on a part-time basis as he’s a Head of State,’ Sibotshiwe said.
He gave an example of Kenya where the problems there were solved after the United Nations and the AU appointed Koffi Annan as mediator. He was permanently based in Nairobi during the whole period of negotiations.



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