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Analyzing South Africa's Role In Zimbabwe - 2003-06-04


South Africa is urging Zimbabwe’s government and opposition to go back to the negotiating table to put an end to renewed violence. The South African Sunday Times today published an article on South Africa’s position. The newspaper quotes a foreign ministry spokesman as saying that now more than ever the solution lies in dialogue.

For reaction, English to Africa reporter Francois Nsengiyumva reached Patrick Rankhumise, deputy director of the Africa Institute of South Africa, a research institution based in Pretoria. Mr. Rankhumise gives his institution’s reaction to events unfolding in Zimbabwe.

He says South Africa has moved from silent diplomacy to being more active because it is perceived as a model for peaceful transition in Africa. He said there is a chance that efforts by Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Bakili Muluzi of Malawi, and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria may succeed in convincing the Mugabe government and opposition MDC to go back to the negotiating table.

On the issue of a possible transitional government in Zimbabwe, Mr. Rankhumise said since Zimbabweans were ruled for a long time by one generation of politicians, they have to be aware that there has been a generation gap in terms of the political elite in Zimbabwe. He said that explains why a long transitional government is needed in order to acquaint new Zimbabwean leaders with issues of governance.

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