SA throws weight behind Mbeki on Zim talks


South Africa has given its former President Thabo Mbeki the greenlight to oversee dialogue between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa as it moves to end the crisis in Zimbabwe.

The dialogue will be championed by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, according to Linda Maso, a counsellor in charge of Political Affairs at the South African Embassy in Harare.

“President Mbeki came to Zimbabwe last year on a private visit but took it upon himself to engage President Mnangagwa, Chamisa and other stakeholders in the country.

The South African government has approved his role and has given him the mandate go ahead to mediate in the dialogue.

The matter is now being handled by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation,” Maso said.

“We are in communication with our government and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation in terms of helping with the logistics of the dialogue and it is going on well.

We shall be contacting President Mnangagwa and Chamisa on this matter very soon.”

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation is a non-profit organisation that was launched by Mbeki when he ended his service to the South Africangovernment in 2008.

Mbeki was midwife to the inclusive government that ran from 2009 to 2013.

This came after Mbeki secured the Global Political Agreement in which Zanu PF and the two MDC formations agreed to work together after the disputed 2008 elections.

Chamisa this week said he was ready for dialogue with President Mnangagwa to rescue the economy from collapse.

“We reiterate our position that dialogue must lead to a transitional mechanism that stops the country’s slide towards total collapse.

This must be followed by genuine reforms and free elections. Zimbabwe must have a dialogue that is credible and genuine underwritten by the international community to facilitate a transitional authority that will pave way for reforms and election,” Chamisa told party members at a State of the Nation Address in Harare on Tuesday.

Chamisa said that President Mnangagwa had informed Mbeki that he needed to consult his party members to decide whether he can meet Chamisa alone for the dialogue.

Chamisa said the military sector had to be included in the dialogue as they had their concern to be addressed too.

The military has in the past vowed not to salute any leader without liberation war credentials in an apparent reference to MDC leaders.

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said his party had been committed to dialogue and participates in the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) meetings.

Chamisa has refused to participate in Polad. “We have started the process of dialogue with other political parties but Chamisa has not been attending the meetings and he has been calling them derogatory names of “small puppies”.

This does not help anyone and we need to move together as country and he must come on board with other political parties. President is aware of our position,” Moyo said.

Mnangagwa and Chamisa have been haggling on the modalities of the talks.

Mnangagwa wants the talks to be conducted under Polad. Chamisa’s MDC is opposed to the participation under Polad arguing the bulk of the parties that constitute the grouping have no political relevance as they have no representative in Parliament.

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