South Africa's new government has asked former president Thabo Mbeki on
Thursday to continue as the region's mediator in Zimbabwe's political
crisis despite his ousting as president. But, as Peta Thornycroft
reports, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party said
Mbeki's involvement was not needed now to break an impasse threatening
to derail a power-sharing deal.
It has been three weeks since
President Robert Mugabe agreed to share power with former opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai who is now prime minister-designate.
the heels of that decision, Mr. Mugabe went to Egypt for a few days on
holiday, and then to the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New
York. On his return, Mr. Mugabe has made it clear he wants to retain
all the powerful cabinet positions.
Mr. Tsvangirai and his
negotiators have not been able to negotiate with Mr. Mugabe on the
issue and have called on the South African Development Community for
assistance. SADC has asked South African President Mbeki to return to
Harare to unlock the deadlock.
A source close to the negotiations said Mr. Mbeki and his full team of facilitators is on standby to go.
sources in Harare say he cannot go there unless he is invited by both
ZANU-PF and the MDC. They say ZANU-PF told them Thursday there was no
problem and negotiations were going well and a solution was close at
Mr. Mugabe has praised Mr. Mbeki's mediation but is refusing to call on him for assistance to break the deadlock.
there are regular reports of MDC supporters being harassed, arrested
and physically beaten during this period. And, there is a grave
humanitarian situation over food, and hundreds of thousands of people
are lining up daily for cash from banks to buy basic provisions.
warning or consultation the central bank Thursday canceled many
electronic transfer payments, the only way many people can buy goods
and services as there is no cash at the banks.
Nations said on Thursday that the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe
was deteriorating and would continue to worsen into next year. It was
estimated that up to 3.8 million people would be short of food between
now and the end of the year, and during the first quarter of 2009 over
five million people would need food aid, according to the United Nation.