JOHANNESBURG – African church leaders have expressed shock at having been told by South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki that he unashamedly supports the civilian leader of Zimbabwe’s military junta, Robert Mugabe, and that president-in-waiting Morgan Tsvangirai and his party, the MDC, were puppets of the West.
The leaders met Mbeki to discuss the Zimbabwean crisis in Pretoria on Friday. They said Mbeki had complained that Britain and the United States sought to “subvert” the SADC’s mediation efforts. Both governments have denied this.
The British High Commission’s First Secretary for Media and Public Affairs, R K Dixon, said: “We have always been supportive of the SADC and Thabo Mbeki’s mediation efforts. There is no issue here.”
The US embassy spokesperson Sharon Hudson said: “We have repeated many times that SADC has and continues to play a meaningful role in the mediation efforts in Zimbabwe and we will support it.”
Dixon said British premier Gordon Brown, who attempted to muscle a debate on Zimbabwe at the UN when Mbeki chaired the council – a move lamented by Mbeki at the meeting with religious leaders – planned to table the Zimbabwean crisis for discussion.
Both countries are in favour of tightening sanctions on Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe’s government and may consider an arms embargo on the flow of arms to Zimbabwe.
Mbeki criticised Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai for “reneging on agreements with the advice of the US and the UK”.
The president of the SA Council of Churches, Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, said Mbeki had expressed concern that Brown insisted on having the Zimbabwe issue discussed at the UN security council, and promised that SADC would send a team to Zimbabwe on Sunday to investigate reports of escalating post election violence.
The MDC hit back, accusing Mbeki of hypocrisy because he held secret meetings four years ago with a faction of the party and the ruling Zanu (PF) in a failed bid to create a government of national unity that would have excluded Tsvangirai.
MDC officials said that since 2002 Mbeki had secretly met with Welshman Ncube, then Secretary General of the United MDC, and Zanu (PF)’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, one of Mugabe’s closest allies.
The MDC said Mbeki’s plan was to form a government of national unity in which Mnangagwa would be president, with Mugabe’s blessings, and Ncube the prime minister.
The plan was foiled in June 2005 when Tsvangirai was made aware of the secret gatherings. The meetings continued after October 2006, when the MDC split into two factions.
Last Thursday the MDC wrote to Mbeki informing him of its decision to cut all ties with him, accusing him of aiding and abetting Mugabe; being part of the Zanu (PF) strategy committee overseeing the resistance against Western and international interference in the crisis, dividing the opposition by holding secret meetings with breakaway MDC officials, failing to act against Mugabe when he announced the election date without consultation and failing to reprimand Mugabe when he forced the Section 48 rule allowing police inside polling stations during the March 29 elections.
The party also informed Mbeki that it would not participate in any negotiations to which he was party because he was badly compromised. – Zimbabwe Metro
* SA pastors shocked
* MDC slams his hypocrisy
* MDC slams his hypocrisy