There are reports that
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will hold new round of talks this week in
South Africa. This was revealed Wednesday by the lawyer for MDC secretary
general Tendai Biti during a court hearing in Harare to seek the return of
Earlier this week,
Zimbabwe Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said President Mugabe was
ready to form a unity government. But he did not say what role MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai would play in such government.
The proposed talks come on the
heel of the recent African Union summit calling on both the Zimbabwe government
and the opposition MDC to form a unity government. Herman
Hanekom is a current
affairs specialist with the Africa Institute of South Africa. He told VOA
the talks, if held, would be a continuation of the
old, failed talks.
“The information as I had it about four hours ago
is that Tendai Biti, upon court order, in Harare, Zimbabwe has been given back
his passport and his bail conditions were amended to allow him to attend these
talks if they do take place in South Africa this coming week. Now these talks
are not, as far as I’m concerned, new talks. It’s merely a continuation of
talks that got took place between the MDC and ZANU-PF prior to the election
under the auspices of President Thabo Mbeki,” he said.
The proposed talks come on the heel of the recent
African Union summit in Egypt calling on both the Zimbabwe government and the
opposition MDC to form a unity government.
Hanekom said the proposed talks are not a new
mandate for South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate that talks aimed at
ending Zimbabwe’s political crisis.
He described as flowery language comments earlier
this week by Zimbabwe Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi that President
Mugabe was ready to form a unity government with the opposition.
“Absolutely flowery language! Formation of a
unity government under whose leadership, Mugabe’s? Big question mark! How
legitimate he is. There was no mention by the Zimbabwe foreign minister, who incidentally
I think is illegal at the moment as his function stopped on the 29th
of March. But nevertheless he did not say what kind of role Mugabe is prepared
to cede to Morgan Tsvangirai in such unity government. So let there be no
optimism unless there’s clarity on that on what Mr. Tsvangirai’s role will be,”
Reacting to the Sham el-Sheikh African Union
summit recommendation for a unity government in Zimbabwe, MDC leader Tsvangirai
reportedly said he wanted to see either United Nations or African Union
observers at any future talks.
Hanekom said it is important for the MDC to have
faith in any South Africa mediated talks.
“What is a very important issue in the entire
fiasco that is taking place at the moment, to what degree will the MDC have
faith in the South Africa mediation without a representative of the African
Union present as they have clearly indicated after Sham el-Sheikh that they are
prepared to continue with Thabo Mbeki as the mediator but they do want another
party present that is not attached to South Africa at all but to the African
Union. And that is another key issue because the past has proven time and again
that from the mediator side certain things were said that later were proved not
to have been true,” Hanekom said.
He said the fact that MDC secretary general
Tendai Biti was given his passport indicates that not all judges in Zimbabwe
are politicized as the police and military are politicized.