SA want Mugabe and Tsvangirai to speed up talks on GPA

thandi_modiseA senior member of the ruling African National Congress in South Africa has said her country wants the long-running negotiations between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai to move ahead more quickly. (Pictured: Thandi Modise, deputy secretary-general of the ANC)

Thandi Modise, deputy secretary-general of the ANC, told Reuters news agency in London on Wednesday that South Africa wanted to see a recovery in Zimbabwe that would allow millions of Zimbabweans who have fled economic meltdown to return home. Modise also said more than three million Zimbabweans who had crossed the border, were placing a huge strain on South Africas healthcare, education and housing resources.

She reiterated that South Africa wanted negotiations between Mugabe and the MDC to pick up pace, adding that her country and Southern Africa wanted to see a Zimbabwe that is beginning to work and to put its citizens first. And that is why we are encouraging the talks between Mugabe and the Tsvangirai to be more positive, to be faster, because all of us need to see our countries working as well as they can do, she said.

It is important to South Africa, and to the ANC in particular, to begin to see a situation in Zimbabwe which will enable Zimbabweans in South Africa and elsewhere in the world to come back to Zimbabwe to rebuild their country, Modise added.

Dr Knox Chitiyo, Head of the Africa Programme for the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in London, said this was an incremental shift by the ANC from their usual quiet diplomacy. The ANC are concerned about the delay it has taken to resolve the issues. The South Africans would want things resolved before the 2010 World cup and I believe they want to use the SADC summit as a signal of intent, Chitiyo said.

They can make it happen through diplomatic leverage to get SADC to pressure all sides to comply with the GPA. If Zuma takes a leading role and insists things should be resolved, then it can be resolved because they are a powerhouse and power broker within the region, Chitiyo added. Chitiyo said, unlike in the past where Tsvangirai attended SADC summits as an opposition leader, this time he will have some legitimacy as Prime Minister in the inclusive government.

Tsvangirai is a leader in government and he does carry clout within SADC and this will make a difference, because by now the region wants finality to the Zimbabwe issue that has been dragging on for years. This is the second time recently that a top ANC official has spoken out about problems affecting the inclusive government, caused by Mugabes unwillingness to implement the Global Political Agreement. Before South African President Jacob Zuma visited Harare last week, Gwede Mantashe, secretary general of the ANC said Zuma would discuss what he termed deviant behaviour in Zimbabwe by Mugabes ZANU PF.

Mantashe said Zuma, unlike his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, would be vocal about problems in Zimbabwe, a reversal of the quiet diplomacy practiced by the former South African president. President Zuma will be more vocal in terms of what we see as deviant behaviour. If there is deviant behaviour, we will be more vocal… but we will still engage, Mantashe said. Mantashe was referring to the conduct of last years presidential run-off, characterized by political violence waged by ZANU PF against the opposition, plus the on-going harassment of MDC MPs by pro-Mugabe officials.

Tsvangirai on Tuesday told journalists in Harare that he expected the forthcoming SADC annual summit to push Mugabe to fulfill the remaining issues in the GPA and to speed up reforms. The MDC leader hoped the summit, which will be held in Kinshasa, would remove the remaining obstacles to the unity pact. But other analysts are not so hopeful. DRC President Joseph Kabila is to take over as SADC chair from Jacob Zuma, and is known as a staunch supporter of Mugabe.

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