South African parties call for peacekeeping force

South Africa opposition parties Democratic Alliance (DA) and African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) have urged South Africa President Thabo Mbeki to urgently consider deploying a peacekeeping force in Zimbabwe.

DA spokesperson for foreign affairs Tony Leon said South Africa, which is currently the rotational Chair of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), was duty-bound to take action to avert a potential humanitarian disaster in Zimbabwe.

“In light of the ominous signs of a significant crackdown against opposition supporters following last week’s general elections in Zimbabwe, the Democratic Alliance calls upon President Mbeki to urgently consider requesting that the African Union’s Peace and Security Council intervene, either by deploying monitors or a peacekeeping force to Zimbabwe,” Leon said.

The call by South Africa opposition parties is in line with similar calls from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which officially requested international intervention to avoid a repeat of the brutal crackdown on opposition supporters when Mugabe lost the constitutional referendum in 2000.

ACDP Leader Kenneth Meshoe said it would be irresponsible for the international community, including South Africa, to wait for the situation to deteriorate further “because, by then, any action taken could prove too late for thousands of opposition supporters who might become victims of state-sponsored violence”.

He said “the explosive political situation” in Zimbabwe had given rise to fears of violence and bloodshed.

“The ACDP supports calls from all those who say the international community must intervene to prevent bloodshed. ACDP believes calls are justifiable for the African Union and the United Nations to intervene in order to prevent bloodshed,” he said.

South Africa opposition parties differ with President Mbeki, who says the international community should “wait and see”, while war veterans march through the streets of Harare intimidating people and saying that they will defend the country’s sovereignty against an opposition take-over.

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