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South Africa Denies Zimbabwe Peace Talks Have Collapsed

The Southern African Development Community’s engineered peace talks between Zimbabwe’s Ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are set to continue. This comes after the South African government dismissed as falsehood reports that the talks, which are aimed at resolving the political impasse between the ruling party and the opposition have collapsed. Both sides are reportedly in consultations over a new date for peace talks to recommence.

From New Delhi, India, South African foreign affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa tells VOA English to Africa Service reporter Peter Clottey that it is not true that Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is scuttling the peace talks.

“There is no such basis for a determination to be made that the SADC led facilitation efforts led by President Thabo Mbeki have collapsed. Nothing is further from the truth. We who are closer to the process know too well that the facilitation process under the leadership of President Mbeki indeed remains on course. The suggestion, therefore, that these processes have all but collapsed is merely peddling falsehood,” Mamoepa pointed out.

He said the peace talks between the government and the opposition will go on as planned.

“Our task is to facilitate discussions between both the MDC and ZANU-PF. And as far as I’m aware, this process is on course,” he said.

Mamoepa said well meaning people should help resolve the challenges Zimbabwe is facing.

“We all have the responsibility to assist the people of Zimbabwe, in their endeavor to find political and economic challenges, and in that context all of us have to ask ourselves the question in whatever we do, do they advance the course of the facilitation, or does it subtract from that process? As the South Africa government, we remain committed in assisting the people of Zimbabwe to find a resolution to find a solution to their political and economic challenges as part and parcel of the collective leadership of SADC. So our view would be that everyone else around the world has to come to the table in full support of this process,” Mamoepa noted.

He said ruling party has apologized to the South African government citing a prior engagement that led the party to skip one of the scheduled meetings with the opposition MDC.

“As far as we are aware, the ZANU-PF delegation could not attend the meetings scheduled for Pretoria last week, primarily because they had prior engagements, and for that they have tendered an apology to the South African government, which has been accepted,” he said.

Mamoepa confirmed that both sides are in serious consultations seeking a new date for the peace talks to resume.

“I must hasten to add that efforts are currently underway to set up a new date for the facilitation talks to take place, in which ZANU-PF delegation would participate,” Mamoepa said.

He said only SADC could give out details about the peace talks between ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC party.

“At this stage we have made a decision that we will not be communicating about the processes related to the facilitation process, until such time that a report about the facilitation has been made to the SADC leadership. Then the SADC leadership would decide whether it would want to make a statement about this,” he said.