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Zimbabwe President Mugabe Says Will Welcome Dialogue With Britain


Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says he is not ruling out having a dialogue with Britain to resolve the political standoff between the two countries. This comes after Mugabe met Senegal’s’ President Abdoulaye Wade who is attempting to resolve Zimbabwe’s external and internal political crisis. But while supporters of President Mugabe are hailing his peace overture, some of his critics say he is only playing to the political gallery with his pronouncement.

Wade, who is expected to leave Zimbabwe Thursday, has been critical of South Africa's efforts to end the political crisis in Zimbabwe. He was also reported to have said he wanted to create a group of African leaders to resolve the impasse between Harare and its former colonialist, Britain.

John Makumbe is a political science professor of the University of Zimbabwe. From the capital, Harare he tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Mugabe’s pronouncement is a political gimmick.

“This is noting new really, he has said that before and he says it every so often in order to give an impression that Britain is the spoiler here, in this whole crisis. I know that Britain has in the past jumped to Mugabe’s rhetoric when he said it was time to build bridges, and the British government sent its envoy to Harare. Mugabe wouldn’t even see the envoy, he didn’t even discuss anything with the envoy, and he refused in fact to see the envoy. So, this is really something to give Wade something to write home about, but it is not going to change things here. Not in the near future, no,” Makumbe noted.

He said President Wade’s attempt to resolve the impasse would have little effect on the situation.

“Here, Wade is really trying to represent the AU (African Union), but he was virtually challenged by a Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s journalist who was asking him “who sent you” because it’s not really something coning from the AU, it’s not coming from ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States), it’s not coming from SADC (Southern African Development Community). It is virtually Wade’s own initiative and it would hardly ever have a platform to stand on, And Mugabe can disown whatever he has said any day. In other words it’s really not something to raise the hopes of anybody about the resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe,” he pointed out.

Makumbe said Wade’s crusade to resolve Zimbabwe’s political crisis could be successful on some issues.

“Wade’s chances of success would only be realistic if he was talking to Mugabe and urging him to step down, and urging him not to stand for elections come 2008. But anything else really like talks with Britain would not resolve anything because those talks have been held before, they have amounted to nothing, but this is something to make Wade happy and to make him go away tomorrow hopeful that he may have made an achievement, and he may have done something Thabo Mbeki has not been able to do,” Makumbe said.

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